Dealing with questions can be really nerve-racking! You have planned and practised and just delivered a wonderful presentation, and now you have to deal with the unknown: answer the audience’s questions!!! Although it’s impossible to know everything you might be asked, there are a few tips to help you manage the Q&A part of your presentation.
When planning your presentation, you might find yourself leaving out information due to time constraints or because it is too detailed. You simply can’t put everything in it! Yet, do you think your audience might want to ask you about this information? If yes, why not ‘save’ this for the Q&A part of your presentation. So, if you don’t have time to delve into something, briefly mention it in the presentation to show you’ve thought of it and then say “I would love to talk more about it in the Q & A section”.
It’s always a good idea to tell your audience that you will take questions at the end of your presentation; this seems to be the norm at conferences. Though questions will definitely arise while you’re presenting, it’s best to deal with them in the end. This way you won’t get interrupted and you can focus on delivering your presentation without being caught off balance by an unexpected question.
It’s question time! What do you do? Listen carefully. What is the purpose of the question? Are you asked to repeat, clarify, expand on something? Are you being challenged? Is the questioner just showing off their own expertise? It’s very important to understand what they want to know, as this will help you interact with them effectively. So, take a brief moment to understand the question or perhaps make a comment about it to buy some time. If you’re not sure, do check with the person that asked you the question.
Now, the big moment: the question itself! Is it irrelevant, or perhaps unnecessary because you have covered the answer? Is it too simple or perhaps too difficult? The main thing is to remain calm and not get defensive. Below we have some strategies and responses that demonstrate each strategy.
This brings up to the end of the Academic Presentations webpages. The main points to remember are: