CHAPTER 7What If They Ask You Something You Don’t Know? Responding to Questions

Being a better communicator is about being present for and helpful to others. This is true especially when responding to questions during a meeting or a presentation. When someone asks you a question, he is revealing something about himself and how he thinks or feels about the topic at hand. At a presentation to a large audience, it takes a lot of guts for some people to expose themselves by asking a question. They are putting themselves in a vulnerable position by showing they don’t know a fact or understand an issue. Responding respectfully and effectively to their questions is a powerful way to build a relationship with the audience as a whole and with the individual asking the question.

What if they ask you something you don’t know?

This is the question we all fear when we’re planning to deliver a presentation or speak at a meeting. How can you be prepared for everything? You can’t, so don’t sweat it. In fact, if you have prepared well for your presentation, you will likely have the answers to any relevant questions. The questions that take you by surprise are those that are only tangentially related to your topic or are about a level of detail you didn’t expect. In either case, your audience is likely to be forgiving if you don’t have the answer.

In fact, in many professions, the value you bring to the conversation is not that you have all the answers. Your value lies in understanding the issues ...

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