Often a presentation will finish with a presentation q and a session. You know the sort of thing – you’re given 20 minutes for your presentation and then told they’ll be 10 minutes for a presentation q and a. The Q&A is a great opportunity to re-emphasise some of the key points from your presentation but is often wasted through poor or non-existent planning in advance by the presenter.
Suggestion: Follow the guidelines below to ensure the presentation q and a is not just something tagged onto the end of your presentation but an integral and key part of it.
PLANNING THE Q&A:
1. Talk the organiser through your Q&A plan
Almost always presenters leave the Q&A plan to the organiser. Don’t do this. Instead discuss with the organiser how you would like the Q&A to run.
2. Q&A before your summary
Usually the presenter finishes with the delivery of their rousing summary and then the Q&A begins. No one asks any questions, the whole things goes flat and the audience leave, as does the presenter, feeling a bit deflated. Avoid that by having the Q&A before your rousing finish. Try it. It works really well. Just make sure you finish the Q&A with sufficient time left in your ‘slot’ to deliver your rousing finish.
3. Be the one who invites the questions
There will always be someone in your audience who wants to dominate the Q&A. Most presenters can spot these people, unfortunately organisers aren’t so good and end up allowing the dominant question asker to do just that. If you pick and choose who asks the questions you can go for those who you think will ask you a question that gives you a chance to further emphasise a key point from your presentation.
4. Be ready to interrupt or park a question
Some question askers can take an age to ask a question which is not good news if you’ve only got a few minutes for a Q&A so be ready to jump in and answer the first part of their question. Likewise if someone asks a question that is not relevant politely but firmly park it and move on to the next question. You could simply say ‘I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to your question’. You could if you wish add ‘Approach me afterwards and I’ll take your details so I can find out the answer and let you know’.
5. Prepare a couple of rhetorical questions
It’s not a great feeling as a presenter if you’ve put everything into your presentation and then the Q&A comes along and no-one asks any questions. Counter this by preparing in advance a couple of questions to ask yourself. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen whilst you are thinking of a question the one I am often asked is…..’ You can probably ask yourself 2 questions – if still no one has any questions then go back and do your summary – this is another good reason for doing the Q&A before your summary.
Top tip for rhetorical questions: Prepare them so they refer to one of your key messages from the presentation. For example suppose in your presentation you talked about ease of installation – your rhetorical question could be – ‘during a Q&A the first question I’m usually asked is how can I be so confident about the ease of installation’ – you can then answer your own question by explaining how the ease of installation works thus using the Q&A as an opportunity to emphasise a key point from your presentation.
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