Tips for Smoother Q&As

Tips for Smoother Q&As

By Susan Berkley

  1. LISTEN BEFORE YOU SPEAKNever assume you know what the question will be. Sometimes an over anxious speaker will jump in too soon. Make sure you listen to the entire question before you give your answer. If the question is rambling, feel free to politely jump in with a paraphrase: “If I understand you correctly, you’re asking…”
  2. REPEAT THE QUESTION SO THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE CAN HEAR IT.Repeating the question will not only ensure that all audience members can hear it, it gives you a few extra moments to think about your answer. If a presentation is being recorded, it’s especially important to repeat it into the microphone.
  3. COMPLIMENT THE QUESTIONEREveryone is afraid of asking a stupid question. Crediting the questioner makes audience members feel good and encourages more questions.
  4. RESPOND HONESTLYIf you don’t know the answer, it’s no sin to say so. Invite the questioner to give you their contact information after the presentation and tell them you will look into it and get back to them.
  5. END YOUR ANSWER WITH A QUESTIONSay: “Does that answer your question?” Or “Is this what you were looking for?” If the answer is “yes” you now have permission to move on.
  6. IF THE QUESTION IS HOSTILE, DO THIS…Answer briefly and politely and then turn to the opposite side of the room and ask: “Next question?”

Never fight with a hostile audience member. Give them as little energy as possible and focus on other, more positive audience members. You can also encourage you to speak with you privately after the session where you can diffuse their hostility in private or choose to get called into an “important meeting”.

And remember, there is no law that says you absolutely MUST take questions from the audience. If all else fails, simply say you have run out of time, thank the audience, and walk off the stage.

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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit

Copyright 2012, The Great Voice Company. All Rights Reserved. Tips for Smoother Q&As.

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