Public Speaking Tip #30 The Dreaded Q and A

Many speakers put hours of preparation into their talk and barely give a moments thought to the Q and A. A big mistake.

A brilliantly crafted and presented public speech can be brought undone by the Q and A session at the end.

While it is vital to focus on the body of your speech – under prepare for the Q and A at your peril.

It’s also often the most feared part of a speech but it doesn’t have to be that way.

With the right amount of preparation and practice the Q and A can be the icing on the cake but there are a number of things you need to do to make sure your session runs seamlessly.

Firstly, prepare and rehearse the types of questions you’re likely to get – get a friend to listen to your speech and then ask you questions about it.

Be warm – many speakers who’’d earlier engaged with the audience during the presentation, cool noticeably fearing the worst from the Q and A. The goodwill you built up is lost immediately. So begin the Q and A with a warm smile, show you are looking forward to answering their questions.

Have some questions ready if the audience is slow to get involved – “I’m often asked…..

Listen closely to each question and before answering repeat the question so all your audience know what it is – repeating the Q also gives you time to formulate your answer.

Be interested and receptive even if the question may seem out of place – show your questioners respect and never be dismissive.

Admit it when you don’t know the answer – don’t wing it -you’ll always be found out – say I’m sorry that question is outside the parameters of my research/knowledge but I will find out for you

Keep your sense of humour – If a question comes out of left field that throws you but draws a laugh from the audience join in. Being the butt of a light hearted comment will endear you to the crowd.

Time – Always be aware of the time remaining. It’s very poor form to run over time as there maybe other speakers or sessions that will run late.

Leave a minute at the end to wrap up the session with two or three sentences that encapsulate your talk and perhaps a Call to action. “So remember we can all make a difference when we go out to vote on Saturday.” or Make sure you do you bit for the environment

Remember the Q and A session comes at the end of a presentation, how you perform during that time will have a lasting impact on the listeners. So you must work to end on a high note and make a final, positive impression on the audience.

With enough practice the Q and A could be one of the highlights of your presentation.