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How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation: A Speaking Survival Guide for the Rest of Us by T. J. Walker

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Chapter 22. The Q&A

Should I Conduct a Question-and-Answer Session? If so, How?

Yes, you should always give people the option of asking you questions, unless there are strict time restraints that prohibit you from doing so. Most presenters find question-and-answer time easier than delivering a prepared presentation, so you might even find you are more relaxed during this part of your presentation. Audiences also typically enjoy question time more because it allows them the opportunity to participate.

Make no mistake about it: your audience sees your ability to answer questions as a big part of your overall presentation. You need to let people ask you questions, and you need to seem happy about their doing so. Movie stars like Tom Cruise or disgraced politicians can get away with refusing questions, but you can't; so don't even try.

Please keep in mind the following tips regarding Q&A sessions:

  • If the audience is fewer than 30 people and there is no hard-and-fast time constriction, encourage people to ask questions at any time during your presentation, not just at the conclusion.

  • Listen carefully to each question in its entirety. What you think is the gist of the question might not be once you hear the whole thing.

  • Look at the person asking you the question the whole time he or she is asking.

  • Begin and end your answer by looking at the person who asked the question. But look at everyone else in the room during the middle of the answer, so they don't feel left out.

  • Limit your answers to a ...

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