Power Presentations Tip 57: Two Laws of Answering Questions

2 Laws of Answering Questions
Two Laws of Answering Questions


  1. You don't need to answer the question now.
  2. You don't need to answer the question.
These two laws are important because most of us were taught just the opposite for most of our life. First our parents and then our teachers drummed into us that we must respond immediately to their questions. And some of us went through that defiant period. But it's still difficult to shake that tyranny of responding to questions.

When you deliver a business presentation today you must learn and reinforce the two laws of answering questions.


1. You don't need to answer the question now.

Just because a member of your audience raises their hand or shouts out an uninvited question doesn't mean that you should disrupt your presentation to cater to their needs.

There are times when you are making an important connection in your presentation that you want to complete. When that occurs you can acknowledge the questioner with a nod to indicate that you see them and want them to hold their question for a moment.

If you already announced that you will take questions later, remind them to hold till the question period.

If the person asks a question on a topic that you plan to talk about later, ask them to hold that question because you will come to that topic.


2. You don't need to answer the question.

There are some questions that you don't need to answer. If it is off topic you could point that out. Or you might say, let's focus on...

You don't need to answer hostile questions.

If the questioner is attacking you personally, you could respond with, "This is not about personalities, this is about..."

Or you could simply ignore the questioner and ask for other questions from your audience. If possible, don't allow that attacker to ask another question.

The message for you: When you present you decide when and how you will respond to questions. Don't get fooled into dancing at the whim of offensive audience members.

Naturally there are exceptions. Sometimes that offensive person might be your boss. But that is a question for another day.

This tip is an excerpt from the recent audio class, "How to Ask, Answer and Anticipate Questions in Your Presentation". Watch for more free audio classes this year.


George Torok
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