How to Ace Your Next Q&A Session

19088483Ever dread the questions that come up during your presentation? Not sure what people will ask? Not sure how to answer under pressure? Before your next big presentation, prepare yourself for Q&A. Use these tips to ensure you are calm and focused:

Before the presentation:

  1. Predict what questions your audience members might ask. Consider adding new content if needed or explain things so that you answer these questions before they arise.
  2. Ask colleagues to review your content or slides, asking them to predict what questions might arise. Again, see if you can work some of the answers into your presentation before the fact.
  3. Gather a live “test” audience to listen to your presentation and ask challenging questions. Or practice on your own, answer all the questions you can predict.

During the presentation:

  1. When taking a question, maintain neutral body language and facial expression, whether you are comfortable or not. Take a breath if you feel anxious.
  2. Restate the question briefly before answering. Instead of saying, “That’s a good question,” try a Neutral Bridge such as “The question is about our overtime policy.” In this way you bridge first, and then answer the question.
  3. Bridge first, whether you know the answer to the question or not. It buys you enough time to decide whether you have the answer or not.
  4. If you must say you don’t know the answer, say you will get back to the person with the answer. Make a note so you remember to get the answer to them.
  5. Answer questions honestly and briefly. Then move on, to the next topic in your presentation or the next question. Use the word “Next” to move forward instead of “As I was saying,” or “Getting back to the presentation.”

Questions are inevitable but responding will come easier if you take time to prepare, train yourself to stay calm and focused, and use a Neutral Bridge before answering.