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What about QUESTIONS?

Updated: 7 days ago


When to take questions. How to answer them.

Done correctly, having your audience ask questions can be an important part of your presentation.

Hearing and answering questions is significant because it is a check on how clearly your presentation was understood and an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings.

When to take questions

In your Opening tell them when questions will be taken.

  1. Telling your audience from the get-go when you’ll be taking questions lets them know not to interrupt your talk because you told them when you’ll have Q&A.

  2. A question about something in a different section of your presentation can throw off your presentation and confuse your audience. You eliminate that by telling when you’ll take questions.

  3. If someone asks a question on material you’ve not yet covered, say, “Do me a favor and write that question down. If I haven’t answered it, when it’s time for questions on that topic, be sure to ask. Thank you!”

  4. For longer presentations, take questions after each section, only on that section, and before your Closing.

  5. Important: Take questions before you Close your presentation.

    1. This is because of the Law of Primacy and Recency.

    2. Your audience best remembers the first and last  things you say and do.

    3. This is why you want a strong Opening and a stronger Closing.

  6. Example: “I’m going to discuss the components, parts, and elements of a presentation. I have time set aside after each section for questions. I have time set aside at the end for questions. Then I’ll deliver my closing.”

How to ask for questions

  1. Don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?”

    1. That’s a Yes or No question.

  2. Best to raise your hand high and say, “In my Opening I said I’d take questions after each section. This is that time. What questions do you have for me?”

  3. Better yet, after asking for questions, “prime the pump” by saying, “I’m going to ask the first question. One of the things I’m always asked is  . . .”

How to answer questions

  1. Especially in a larger audience, repeat and paraphrase the question so your entire audience knows what is being asked.

    1. Example: “To be sure I understand your question, you want to know . . .”

  2. Start answering the question by looking directly at the person who asked it. Finish a thought and move on to look directly at someone else in another part of your audience. Repeat until finished.

    1. Only looking at the person who asked you the question could result in more questions from them and lead to a conversation, leaving out the rest of your audience.

  3. Don’t say, “Good question!”

    1. Answer by stating: “Let me answer it this way.” or “Here’s how I understand it.”

If you don’t know the answer to a question

  1. Don’t throw it out to your audience.

    1. If you do, you lose control.

    2. You can’t be sure the person answering is giving the correct answer.

    3. What if they are challenged?

  2. It’s best to reply, “I’m sorry. I’m drawing a blank right now. If I don’t think of the answer, let’s get together after the presentation and we’ll figure it out.”

In most scenarios, DON’T call on someone for a question who hasn’t raised their hand

  1. You might embarrass them and that isn’t what you want to accomplish.

Follow these suggestions for when to take and how to answer questions, and I guarantee your next presentation will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!


Pausing is a key component of presenting.

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!”

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