How to Handle a Q&A?

It’s the part of most presentations that we dread. Even if you practice your presentation many times, nothing can prepare you for the unpredictability of a Q&A session. No need for sweaty palms or a croaky throat, here’s three quick tips to help you breeze through the Q&A session, and more importantly control it.

1. Assume control immediately
As a presenter, you can set the parameters of the Q&A, so make sure you do. When introducing the Q&A segment, issue a time or question limit at the beginning. This way you have control of when you conclude it and will also relax you into beginning.

2. Keep order.
Q&A’s can become raucous affairs. As the presenter you are meant to maintain order and therefore control. One tip is to establish what the etiquette is for asking a question, to do this we use non-verbal communication. Raise your own hand and ask the audience, ‘does anyone have the first question?’ – this way you have told the audience how they should ask a question, by raising their own hand. If you lead they will follow.

3. The question you simply can’t answer.
It’s very important here that you don’t bluff your way through an answer when you don’t know it, even though you may feel you’ve ‘winged it’ the truth is you haven’t and the majority of the audience will know. So, take a pause and turn it back on the questioner, “How would you answer this?” or “What method would you use for that”. It may surprise you but the questioner will inevitably know that answer and delight in answering and sounding clever in the room.

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