10 Tips For Handling Audience Questions

  1. Keep your question / answer period brief. Too much time spent addressing individual concerns lowers the “energy level” of the larger group. Stop the questions and close when you see the energy sag.
  2. Anticipate questions and try to prepare answers. If it’s a tough presentation, practice answering questions with a colleague in advance.
  3. In answering the question, try to reinforce key points you’ve made in your talk. Avoid irrelevant tangents.
  4. Don’t be afraid to rephrase a question from a¬†participant, or ask for more clarification.
  5. If you don’t know the answer, say so; then tell the questioner when you’ll be able to get it to him/her.
  6. If you want time to put together an answer, ask the questioner to repeat the question or even answer it him/herself.
  7. If you still can’t answer the question, ask it to the other members of the audience. Say:
    • “That’s a good question. How do you feel about ?”
  8. If a disruptive individual begins questioning you, s/he is probably looking for recognition. Give it! Say:
    • “That’s a good point.” Then suggest you meet after the talk to discuss it further.
  9. Consider leaving out a key piece of information form your talk (e.g., the address of the agency), in anticipation of the question. Your answer will show you’re well prepared, and your point will be much stronger.
  10. If you put aside a question and answer period, make sure you leave time to summarize your main points after the questions.

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