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Dealing With Difficult Questions

You’ve just nailed your presentation and you open the floor for Q&A. Things are going well until – BAM - the question you were hoping no one would ask is presented on the floor. This is a tough spot for even the most prepared speakers. What do you do when you’re asked the questions that you weren’t prepared for – or worse- hoping to avoid? Here are some tips and tricks to help you through the tough questions.


1. Pause before you speak

It’s natural to try and respond quickly to questions, especially to move on from those questions you’d prefer not to address. Force yourself to pause and really think through your response. Taking an extra moment will not only help prevent you from blurting out the first thought that comes to mind, but will also give the appearance of grace and lending true thought to a question that audiences will recognize is not the easiest to answer.

2. Never lie

Lying never works out and typically ends up causing more pain than it’s worth. Someone will call you out and it’s the fastest way to lose the respect of your audiences and peers. Always tell the truth, even if that means admitting you don’t currently have the answer. Which leads us to point #3.

3. Follow-through on your “I don’t knows”

There is nothing wrong with not having the answer in the moment. However, the words “I don’t know” are typically followed by the standard line of “I’ll get back to you on that”. Be a person of your word and actually follow up with the answer to the question when you can. Not only does circling back provide additional opportunities to have further conversations, but it will also help strengthen your reputation in more ways than one.

Meeting Town can help you organize your post-discussion follow-ups, by allowing you to mark questions to answer later. From a meeting’s Public View, tap the 3-dot menu next to a question and select Answer Later. This will move the question to the Answer Later tab, so you don’t forget to follow up on those tricky questions requiring additional thought.

4. Move those challenging questions offline before they ever hit the floor

If you know there’s a good chance you are going to run into difficult questions, you can always use a tool like Meeting Town! All questions can be submitted via Meeting Town and meeting participants can up-vote the questions they most want to discuss. Any questions you prefer to avoid can be moved to the “Answer Later” queue. Follow up with the person/team after the presentation and answer those questions in your own time.

Tough questions can come up at any time. By practicing these tips and using tools such as Meeting Town, you can learn to manage these questions with ease.

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