After the presentation
Question time is often included at the end of a presentation. Some students worry about this session because they fear losing control of the situation, however, the questions are a vital part of the presentation because they allow the audience to seek clarification, consolidate their learning and contribute their ideas and opinions. If you are familiar with the material you will be able to anticipate what common questions will arise. If you haven’t done much background reading around your topic, your answers to the questions will be unfocused and unclear.
Some students set guidelines by informing the audience of the topics they will cover in question time eg Are there any questions about the four principles that I just outlined?
If someone asks a question that is outside the guidelines you can say eg I’m afraid that falls outside my objectives for today’s presentation. I’m happy to take another question.
Listen carefully when someone asks you a question because it is common for students to misinterpret the question due to nervousness. If you aren’t sure that you understood a question, clarify it before answering eg Do you mean…? If a question is long and finishes on a topic that is different to the start point, make it clear that you are answering the start or end of the question. Don’t do what politicians are good at – ignore the question and answer the question you wish you had been asked.
Even though you are taking a question from one person, don’t forget the rest of the audience need to stay involved. Look at everyone and invite discussion, don’t have a long one-on-one conversation with one person. Keep your answers brief and don’t go into too much detail. Questions shouldn’t prompt you to make a second ‘mini’ presentation of the information you wish you had time to include in your presentation.
If a difficult question puts you on the spot, stay calm and in control, and shift the focus away from the question by giving a short reason why you won’t/can’t answer it and invite a fresh question eg That’s a very interesting question but as it isn’t covered in my presentation we should move and on stay on topic. I will take another question now. Don’t get aggressive or defensive or this will spoil the success of your presentation. If you simply don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to admit it. It is better to be honest that to give an uninformed answer eg That is a great question that I don’t know the answer to.
Praise yourself afterwards no matter how well or badly you think it went, then do something which you enjoy as a special treat.
It is a good idea to spend a few moments assessing how you think the presentation went. Review whether you: