Does anyone have a question ? … uhhh anyone ?

How many presentations end with the immortal words “are there any questions?”

In South Africa this can trigger absolute silence!  It seems as if it’s not in our nature to leap to our feet with an immediate question. It usually takes a moment or two for some brave soul to break the ice and this can feel like a lifetime for the presenter !

Try planting just one or two questions with ‘friendly’ members of your audience. Not only does this help get the ball rolling, but you can steer questions in a direction you would prefer!

If you want the audience to ask questions at any stage of your presentation … tell them upfront.  However if it’s important that you to get key points across before they have an opportunity to ask questions, then try this technique …

‘Ladies and gentlemen, if at any point you would like to stop me and ask a question, please do.  However, I will have a special slot for questions. You might prefer to write your question down (on the special branded note paper and pen provided!) and raise them later.

From experience, unless it’s a burning issue, the audience will follow your suggestion and hold their questions until you ask for them.  The result is that you keep control and the audience feel more comfortable posing questions that they have had a chance to think through

Ninety nine percent of all presentations end with an anguished look on the presenter’s face … ‘any questions?’ … But this is not the best time to handle questions.

What happens if questions become hostile or negative ?  This is the last impression we leave with the audience …and invariably if this happens, we lose the positive impact our presentation may have already created.

Try handling questions just before your conclusion or summary.  This way, no matter how difficult your Q&A becomes you still have the magic words …

“In conclusion!”

Now you have the opportunity to re-pitch key points from your presentation, leading naturally to any decision or commitment you may require from the audience and certainly leaving them on a high note.

© Paul Tomes 2011

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