How do you handle difficult presentation questions?

Questions can be a source of anxiety for any presenter. And a difficult question can really throw you a curveball.

Even if you totally know your stuff, the Q & A session at the end of a presentation can be a source of dread. And that’s whether your audience asks you “nice” or “not so nice” questions.

Questions are a major source of anxiety in presentations

It can be frustrating after putting in the time and energy preparing your slides, practicing in front of the mirror and knowing your material inside and out to be flustered with an awkward question.

So how can you ensure you can tackle any question with confidence even when faced with a more challenging one? Being pre-armed with a set of tactics and observable behaviours in your presentation tool box is a great first step.

Here are a few other tips you can try immediately in your next face to face or virtual presentation.

Develop go-to answers

Think in advance as part of your research what questions your audience may ask, and note your replies. This will help your presentation content as a whole as well and improve your confidence in tackling any type of question.

You can’t know everything

Be prepared to be open and honest and say you’re unable to answer this question at the moment if you don’t know the answer. Or open the question up to the rest of the audience for some insight and feedback.

Pivot back to your message

When asked any question, link it back to the main theme of your presentation to give it context and meaning. It may sound like repetition to you but it will help ensure that your key messages are front of mind and not potentially lost off topic.

Don’t get defensive

Keep your cool and don’t take a robust question personally. Maintain your confidence by maintaining your composure and taking control of your emotions.

Limit time on the negative

Letting a negative question dominate the whole Q & A section is counter productive. By all means answer the question if you can, but don’t dwell on it. Move onto more productive questions that will support your messaging.

Need more help Dealing with Negative Questions?

If you or any of your team would like more help with Dealing with Difficult Questions then this module from our Delivering Inspiring Messages will really help.

Participants discover tools to plan and prepare satisfactory answers to difficult questions (including ones they don’t know the answer to) and apply effective listening and questioning skills to stay in control of all types of difficult audiences.

Participant outcomes include:

  • Confidently manage questions from any business audience
  • Prepare and plan ways of handling difficult questions
  • Understand how to handle questions that I cannot answer there and then
  • Ensure that the audience questions are understood and that all issues requiring clarification are resolved
  • Respond positively and effectively to questions