Various types of speakers have the option to have a question and answer session. Keynote speakers generally do not have the time while speakers who are facilitators, trainers or who can speak longer, have a question and answer session.
For the audience, they can ask questions to clarify or get more information on what was said. For you as the speaker, you can answer questions and tie up any loose ends that your audience may have.
To start the process, assume your audience has questions. Ask your audience what questions do you have, then wait. Some speakers do not show patience and if no one asks in the first couple of seconds, they begin to move on to the next portion of their program. Give at least 10 seconds, which may feel like a minute. Keep the pause, for generally once the first question is asked, people will begin to feel more comfortable and follow suit asking questions.
When someone asks a question, before you answer, repeat the question so that everyone in the room knows what the question is. If you do not know the answer, say so. Never bluff. The audience can always tell.
Always have a time frame for your Q&A and adhere to it. Answer one final question, inform your audience that you will answer more questions at the end of the program. Then proceed to your close. Never have the Q&A as your close
I believe one of the most important words a speaker should use is the word why. Whether you are looking at content, room set-up or presentation materials, asking yourself the “why” is an important part of anything you do. Forcing yourself to ask why, makes you to start review what you are doing differently.
Why this content? Why this content now? Why this content now with this audience? All of us get locked into a set pattern or behavior and we forget that there are other ways to look at things.
Sometimes by looking at your actions differently forces you to make changes that can make your presentations more powerful. You may use a particular set of materials because you are comfortable. However your materials maybe slowly going out of date. Looking at what you hand out from various angles will force you to challenge the effectiveness of what you hand out.
Again, remember asking the “why” on what you do or say, will always challenge you for the better!
The power of questions!
As a speaker we sometimes forget that asking a question and pausing and waiting for an answer is more powerful than us speaking. Here are four reasons we need to build questions into our speaking repertoire:
Obtain and Clarify Information — Obtaining accurate information and a clear understand of circumstances will always save you time and help you avoid errors.
Provoke Thought – When you ask a question, pause after it, it give people time to think and be more engaged with you message.
Provide Control In A Situation – When speaking you may find yourself in adversarial position with certain audience members. Taking a moment and coming back with a well thought out question can give you control in that situation.
Promotes the Power of Persuasion — If you can determine where audience position is (through questions), you can better ask questions to provide a different perspective. In fact, your audience may persuade themselves.
To often we as speaker are telling, rather than providing what the audience really needs, figuring out what they need to do. Through the use of questions you are providing the avenue to move your audience in a more positive direction.