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Handling Questions: Dos and . . .


DO tell the audience, in your Opening, when and how you will be handling questions.

  1. Taking them throughout the presentation can cause problems.

  2. What do you do if someone asks, right after you start speaking, a question about an item you’re planning to cover in the last quarter of your presentation?”

  3. If you answer it, the flow and time of your talk is compromised. It might cause confusion to the attendees about your message.

  4. DO hold your Q&A before you close your talk. The Closing is the Closing! – Period!

  5. The Law of Primacy and Recency says your audience will best remember the first and last things they see and hear. Specifically the last thing you do will be the first thing they will remember.

  6. Usually questions are taken after the talk. Imagine the last question you answer being aggressively challenged by someone. That confrontation is what people will takeaway. You don’t want that!

  7. An alternative to taking all questions before closing is to take a few after specific sections of your talk. Limit the number of questions and tell the audience they must be relevant to that material only. You are in charge!

DO repeat or paraphrase questions, especially when a mic is not available and the question is complex.

  1. Your goal is everyone understands what is being asked.

  2. Having people shout, “Repeat the question, please.” and “I can’t hear you.” distracts the audience and interrupts the flow.

DO look directly at the person asking the question when starting your answer.

  1. Finish a thought, move on to look at someone in a different part of the room. Finish a thought, move on to another face. Repeat until the question is answered.

  2. If you continue looking at the original questioner, they might ask another question. You answer that one, and they ask another. Very quickly, you could be in a conversation with that individual, leaving out the rest of you audience.

DO have a question in your hip pocket to “prime the pump.”

  1. Sometimes it’s hard to get folks asking questions. A good way to do this is to use this verbiage: “When I opened my talk I said I had time set aside for questions. This is that time. What questions do you have? I’m going to ask the first question because one of the questions I’m always asked is . . .”

DON’T say, “Good question!”

  1. It’s cliche. If it’s said to several questioners, what do you say to the next one?

  2. Try using variety:

  3. “Thanks for asking.”

  4. “Let me answer it this way.”

  5. “The best response is . . .”

DON’T throw a question, you can’t recall the answer to, out to the audience

  1. You lose control!

  2. Control of time and control of the answer.

  3. Perhaps two people present opposite answers to the question!

  4. The best practice is to say, “I’m having a ‘brain cramp’ on that one! If I don’t recall the answer before my closing, grab me afterwards and we’ll figure it out. OK?”

DON’T call on anyone who doesn’t raise their hand.

  1. You may think they have a question because they are giving you great eye contact, leaning in, and taking notes. No mind reading! You could embarrass someone, and in turn, yourself!

DON’T say, “Do you have any questions?”

  1. People are often reluctant to respond when asked with that sentence because they may think they will ask a question about something you covered and embarrass themselves.

  2. Better to ask, “What questions do you have for me?”

  3. Better yet, to raise your hand high and ask that question.

  4. The difference in responses is amazing!

Follow these suggestions for handling questions and your presentations will be absolutely – NO SWEAT!


About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, an international coach, and the author of the books, “NO SWEAT Public Speaking!” and “NO SWEAT Elevator Speech!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know: Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts, and we like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver ‘Knock Your Socks Off Presentations!’ with – NO SWEAT!


  1. Keynote Speaker

  2. Workshop Facilitator

  3. Breakout Sessions

  4. Personal and Group Public Speaking and Presentation Coaching


  1. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

  2. Crafting Your Elevator Speech, Floor by Floor with – NO SWEAT!

  3. Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

  4. We are All Self-Employed!


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