You already know that giving a strong, confident presentation is essential for professional success. But for many people, the most challenging part comes during the Q&A session. Although Q&A can be intimidating since you don’t have the opportunity to rehearse what you’ll say beforehand, it’s also an excellent opportunity to reinforce your message and connect with your audience on a more intimate level. Since this will often be the final impression you leave with your audience, it’s important to make sure your Q&A session is just as engaging and professional as your presentation itself.
Take a look at these tips to make sure you end your presentation right! After an audience member asks a question, restate it before answering. This ensures that you properly understood what was being asked before responding, helps clarify the question for the rest of the audience if the speaker couldn’t be heard, and gives you a moment to gather your thoughts and formulate your answer. Make direct eye contact with the person asking the question—they’ll feel as though they’re getting your full attention, and you’ll be more likely to fully understand what they’re asking. When responding, shift your focus and make eye contact with the general audience to pull everyone else in so it doesn’t feel like you’re having a one-on-one conversation. If you prefer to keep questions until the end, let the audience know in advance that you will be taking questions at the end of the presentation. This way people know not to jump in with questions during the presentation and can make mental notes about questions they’d like to ask as you go along. If a person asks a question that is off-topic, antagonistic, or goes on for several turns, feel free to defer by saying something like, “That’s an excellent point, and I’d love to discuss it more with you off-line after the presentation.” If possible, try to schedule time in so that you can stick around for a little bit after the presentation to handle these types of questions, have more in-depth conversations, or field questions from audience members who were too shy to speak up in front of a crowd.
Related: How to Negotiate Like the Professional You Are
If you’re looking for more ways to make your communication skills your most powerful professional tool, make sure to pick up a free copy of my e-book “Communicate with Clarity and Confidence!” by subscribing to our newsletter community on our website. In this free resource, I break down the myriad factors that contribute to confident communication and guide you through how to use each aspect to your advantage.