Public Speaking is a great way to expose your message to more people, acquire new leads and generate new clients when you know what you are doing.
Recently I was invited to speak at this really cool event and there were several presentations before mine. I decided to put my student hat and join some of the classes.
One class specifically I was really fired up about because it was one of the topics I am always studying and we teach at Influenceology – video marketing.
The class was packed and the only place to sit was the in the back of the room. So I sat down and started taking notes.
Because we teach the same subject, most of the content being shared was familiar, but I was learning a couple of new things and I was really enjoying the presentation.
At one point during the presentation the speaker was talking about a specific “how to process” that is very common in the industry and I was very curious to know if his process was similar or different than ours.
As he was explaining, I was just checking in my mind…“ok, step 1, step 2 got it, this great, step 3..I do the same, this is great…” then, all of sudden he moved on to the next subject…as if he had finished this process.
In my mind I went…“how about step 4?”
I waited a few minutes to see if he had forgot it but he never mentioned anything – he just moved on to a different topic.
I wanted to make sure he addressed the “step 4” because I did not want the audience to miss that important point…or at least, I wanted to know his opinion about step 4…
So, VERY respectfully, I raised my hand and waited for him to call on me.
He made a gesture like: “what is your question?”
I was being very careful to not come across with the “I know it all” syndrome, so I asked him:
“What is your opinion about doing step 4?”
Without thinking he gave me this knee-jerk reaction…
That is a STUPID IDEA!!!
I was shocked…I could not believe the way he responded…
Without losing it, I asked the same question again.
“What is your opinion about doing step 4?
And then…noticing that I was serious and wanted him to consider my question, he paused and said:
“Ohhh yeah!…I am glad you brought that up…oh yeah…you can also do that…that is important…thank you”
He tried to recover but the damage was already done.
At that point his answer did not matter to me anymore…all I could think was “this guy just called my idea stupid”
Everything he said after that I did not pay much attention to…
I lost respect for him immediately as a presenter and his content.
Lesson: Never, never, never call an idea, story, concept or someone STUPID.
If you want to be respected, respect others and their opinions.
So how do you answer a question from the front of the room?
I want to share with you 10 points for you to consider when answering a question during your next presentation:
- Make that person feel important. Look in their eyes in a friendly and welcoming manner.
- Hear the person and make sure you understand the question.
- Pause for 1 – 3 seconds before you answer. It also sends the message that you don’t have a canned answer. At least it helps you avoid saying something “stupid” 🙂
- If necessary, repeat the question so other audience members can hear the question (specially in larger groups).
- If the question is clear and you know a good response, just answer it. If the question it is not 100% clear to you, paraphrase his question saying something like: “let me see if I understand your question correctly, you asked me ….”. Sometimes there are 3 questions within one question.
- Don’t say “great question” unless you are willing to say it every single time someone asks you a question. Otherwise you are sending the wrong message to your audience.
- If you don’t know an answer there are couple things you can do: you can call on someone in the audience that is an expert and ask that person to answer for you, for example you can say “This question is very specific. We have an expert in the audience who deals with this issue daily. Mr. Jones, do you mind answering this question for us?
- Another way to answer is to crowd-source. You can say “Does anybody may know an answer or possible solution for his question?” Caution: this can be disastrous if you hand the control over to some random person in the audience. Use this only if you have a feel for who is in the audience.
- You can simply say, I don’t know. I will do further research and I will get back to you by…….. In the meantime, a good resource to find this info is……
- Confirm that the audience member understands your answer. You can say something like: “Does that answer your question?
- If the answer is too long, you may say something like “the answer to this question is very complex, how about I address it during the break or after my presentation is over”
- Or if your answer will be revealed during the presentation, you can answer it by saying something like: I will address this issue further in the presentation, and if you still have a question, I would be happy to clarify that for you.
If you want to learn more about what to do and what not to do when presenting, check out our upcoming event Influencing From The Front. We will go into details about what to do and what not to do to acquire more leads and make more sales with strategic presentations. Just go to http://www.influencingfromthefront.com