Business presentations tips for executives, sales presenters, managers, technical experts and professionals from the "Speech Coach for Executives" George Torok. Transform your business presentations into effective conversations. George Torok is a Toronto based presentation coach and presentation skills trainer.
Superior Presentations 64: How to Handle Questions about Your Flaws
Handle Questions About Your Flaws
Let's admit the truth. None of us
is perfect. There are no perfect products. No system is perfect. No organization
So don't pretend to be perfect or
try to project an image of perfection to your clients, colleagues or the public.
I didn't say that you need to reveal all your flaws. Just don't defend when
someone points out a mistake. Admit the error and move on.
If you are not perfect this means
that you made some mistakes along the way. And someone will point out that past
failure, complain about poor performance or challenge you on a flaw.
You might have heard the analogy
that an airplane is off course 80% of the time. The pilot or autopilot needs to
keep adjusting to get to the destination. As long as you arrive safely at the
destination you probably don't care how many course corrections were made.
Consider these three
You are speaking to a group of
clients to launch a new product or promote a program. A person in the audience
loudly grumbles about defective product in the last shipment.
You are training staff how to use
a new technology. An individual points out that this is inferior technology and
your competition has already upgraded.
You are reporting the status of a
project to a management committee. An astute manager reminds the group about
past failed promises and questions your capability as a project leader.
How can you handle
these unfriendly questions?
The first thing is to focus on
your destination not on the errors or course corrections.
If you focus on the flaw, the
danger is that you might trap your thinking into defending the flaw. If you do
that, you will appear guilty.
Instead, break the
question or challenge into at least two parts.
Step One - Admit the
Say, "I hear two questions there.
The first question is 'Is our system perfect? The answer is no. We have
experienced an X percent defect rate. That is better than the industry average
but we still want to improve. That's why we invested Y dollars in process
improvement over the past five years."
Acknowledge the flaw and explain
what you are doing to address it.
Step two - Accentuate the
The second question I heard is
"Does our warranty program continue to be the best in the industry? The answer
is yes. If you haven't yet reported this issue then I'm happy to help you
resolve this setback."
Sometimes there might be a third
The third question is "How can
you help our team successfully complete this project?" Then you tell the
committee exactly what you want from them.
Most reasonable people simply
expect you to acknowledge the truth and tell them what you are doing to fix