Be sure to plan for Q&A when you build your presentation.
As you’ve probably noticed, your presentations usually don’t end when you’ve finished briefing your slides.
Unfortunately, you typically have that pesky ‘Questions?’ slide stuck on the end, and more often than not, someone is going to need an answer.
Putting a speech together often includes anticipating questions, and having a gameplan on how to handle them.
Below are a few ideas on how you can save yourself some embarrassment at your next Q&A session.
1. Be prepared
It goes without saying, but it must be said anyway. The better prepared you are, the less anxious you’ll be when it comes to Q&A.
Not only is it important to know your subject matter in and out, but you also need to understand the audience you’re presenting to.
Take some time to learn who will be at the meeting, and you’ll have a better idea of which direction the questions may be coming from.
2. Have backups
If you are using Powerpoint, your time may be limited and you’ll only be able to present a few slides. The typical rule of thumb is around 2-3 minutes per slide.
However, there’s nothing wrong with having plenty of back-up material on slides in case you need it. This may be additional data, or proof of how you crunched the numbers to get to your conclusion.
These can be stuck after the final slide, providing you the information if you need it.
Another good tactic is to bring the experts with you to the meeting. If you’ve gathered info from several of your employees, it’s not a bad idea to have them available to answer the more detailed questions.
3. Work the edges – talk to the key players beforehand
Chances are many of the toughest questions will come from your peers, so it’s not a bad idea to ‘socialize’ the topic with them beforehand.
For example, if you’re pitching a new project that will cost money or require computer resources, touch base with the finance and IT offices several days before the meeting.
Hopefully, you can work out any issues that may have surprised you during the presentation, and management tends to like it when departments work together.
4. Hold a ‘Murder Board’
The Murder Board is essentially a dress rehearsal for the actual meeting. For presentations to the top management, you may want to hold several of these.
Invite a small group of people willing to ask you tough questions during your presentation. You can even ask each person to take on the role of a department head and ask questions from that direction.
This will provide you the opportunity to hone your speaking skills and develop answers to the more difficult questions now rather than sweating through them at the actual meeting.
5. Know how not to answer the question
While the number one rule above is to ‘be prepared,’ you’re sure to get a question or two you can’t answer directly.
During the Murder Board, one of the skills you should build is how to gracefully sidestep a question.
First of all, do not try to ‘wing it.’ You don’t want to be embarrassed by someone correcting you in front of the boss.
If you don’t know the answer, the statement, “I don’t have the answer, but I will get it and get back to you today” will usually work. Then, get back with them today!
Building a speech requires not only a good understanding of the subject, but also knowing how to respond to questions during the presentation.
Hopefully, the info above has given you some ideas on how to handle your next Q&A session.