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QuickBite: Go from Lackluster to Powerful Q & A Sessions

Many speakers give little thought to Q & A sessions … and that’s unfortunate because what’s often looked at as an inconsequential way to end a presentation could be viewed as a significant opportunity to clarify and share more ideas.


In this short episode, you’re going to learn several tips about how you can make your Q & A sessions much more productive, which, in turn, will make your presentations that include Q & A much more compelling and effective.


The first tip, and perhaps the most eye-opening, is to not leave Q & A until the end of your presentation. I know … that’s where just about everyone puts it. But there is a better place.


You know the ending is the most critical part of your presentation, and you could develop a fantastic conclusion. But no matter how compelling your conclusion is, if it’s not the end of your presentation, it won’t be as effective as it could be.


So, where does your Q & A go? You slide it between your last talking point and your conclusion. Think about it … what better time to ask for questions than directly after you share information? But that’s not the only advantage.


You always want your conclusion to be powerful and on your terms. However, because you’re never sure how a Q & A session will go, ending with Q & A can be risky. So, by placing your Q & A just before your conclusion, you can end as anticipated.


The second tip is to transition into Q & A. You might say something like, “Let’s take the next 10 minutes for your questions. Based on what you just heard, what questions do you have?”


The first part of this transition lets your listeners know how long the Q & A will be. The second part reminds them that their questions should pertain to the information you shared in your presentation. And did you notice that nowhere do you ask, “Does anyone has any questions?” You just shared a great deal of information. Someone has a question.


Each of the following tips concerns answering questions.


#1, after a question is asked, be sure to pause so others can process the question. It also provides you with a brief time to formulate your answer.


#2, if you’re going to say something like, “That’s a great question,” then you should respond to each question that way while varying the actual words. Other phrases you could use include, “I am so glad you asked that.” Or “No one has asked that before … I love it!” Your goal is to have everyone feel like their questions were important and interesting.


#3, just like you pause after questions are asked, pause between answering a question and asking for another. This allows time for your listeners to process your answer.


When your time is up, or there are no more questions, segue to your conclusion and end powerfully.


One final suggestion. If you’re presenting in a situation where someone is hosting the event, be sure to let them know that you will speak briefly once the Q & A has ended. Because most people assume Q & A is the end of a presentation, the host might otherwise begin speaking before you have the opportunity to deliver your conclusion.


There you go … several tips to help your Q & A session transform from a lackluster ending to a strategic element. Include these ideas in your next presentation with Q & A, and you’ll hear, see, and feel the difference. Most important, your listeners will, too!