Top Tips – Handling the question & answer session effectively

Question and answer sessions can take on a momentum of their own, if you are not able to manage them well. For certain once the audience spots a weakness they are very likely to exploit it – which just multiples the degree of discomfort for you.

To avoid this ever happening to you always adhere to these rules.

  1. Prepare answers. Based on what you know of the audience, their existing knowledge, roles and responsibilities and the material you have presented anticipate which topics will attract questions.
  2. Listen (really listen). Make sure you really understand the question before attempting to answer.
  3. Seek clarification. Check you understand the question correctly before starting your answer.
  4. Think. Before you speak make sure you know what you plan to say
  5. Be brief. Do not over answer the question as this often leads you into areas you would rather avoid and anyway the audience probably doesn’t want too much detail.
  6. Check. Get confirmation from the questioner that you have answered their question.
  7. Be honest. If you don’t know the answer, say so. BUT do commit to get back to them within a reasonable timescale – and make sure that you do!

Be very aware of your body language when answering questions and make sure that you retain a positive stance, manner, voice and eye contact with your audience through-out. Doing so will add considerable credibility to your answers. Even after the session is over be aware that while the audience can see you they are receiving non-verbal communications from you.

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Build on solid foundations

Start by knowing what it is that you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation. Once you have this you can then start to frame this – I call this the structure of your presentation.

Now you can plan the “story” you want to tell, bearing in mind who your audience are and what action / changes you want them.

Always have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

To be effective communication needs to have some repetition – so that the audience has more than one opportunity to hear your message. (Work on the basis of tell em what you’re going to tell em, tell em, and then tell em what you’ve told em).

The Introduction

In the introduction tell them why it’s in their interest to listen and act on the presentation (these are benefits – the what’s in it for them). Be concise here and grab their attention – some significant statistic or fact to grab their attention is good. Equally something that challenges what they think they know should also get their attention!

Also in the introduction let them know how long your presentation will last for, so they can scope this in their mind. There is nothing worse than not knowing how long something is going to last for – at the very least it’s very distracting – and you telling them is also a sign of professionalism  in that you know. This in itself gives you some credibility straight away.

Don’t tell them your life and career history – quite frankly they don’t care about you – it’s the what’s in it for them that they want to know. If you want to give them some info on yourself have the person who introduces you give 30-45 seconds absolute max. on your credentials / expertise / experience – but nothing else.

Main Body

At the start of each main section of the presentation tell them what you’re going to cover – keep this to very short bullets, or visuals that represent them is even better. Then deal with each section in a factual manner – avoid giving them lots of detail (unless this is absolutely fundamental to the argument) as they will forget most of this anyway.

Summary / conclusion

When you get to the end tell them by saying something obvious like “in conclusion, or to summarize” then give them 1,2 or 3 – absolutely no more of the strongest arguments you’ve used during the body of the presentation and leave them with these. It is these that they will remember.

You can refer back to where you started, by saying that I said I was going to tell you x, y, z well that’s what I’ve done (it should be blindingly obvious).

The Bid Coach are experts in training your teams to win.

Contact Hugh at: via www.thebidcoach.com or win@thebidcoach.com

or ring (01963) 240555