Imagine reaching the end of your presentation, soliciting your audience for questions and being met with blank stares and awkward silence. It’s an uncomfortable picture and can threaten the credibility of an otherwise strong presentation.
But you don’t have to worry about what’d you’d do in that situation any longer. The PowerPoint design experts at Manchester-based agency Buffalo7 have pulled together some expert tips for recovering control when no-one asks a question during your Q&A.
Buffalo7’s Tips for Beating Dreaded Q&A Silence Offers the Following Advice:
1.) Don’t Start Panicking
It’s disappointing when no-one poses a question on your topic, but this doesn’t mean you flopped. Audiences may need more time to absorb information, but more often than not it’s just a case of breaking the ice: being able to transition to a new dynamic is a valuable skill. Don’t be thrown off by an initial lack of questions. Stay cool and have a game plan.
2.) Bring Your Own
A great way to kick off a quiet Q&A is to prepare your own ‘common questions’. This allows you to reinforce your points with real-world context. Say something like ‘a question I’m often asked is...’, then answer in a way that gives the audience the opportunity to see the value in your message. Speaking to real-world concerns is a good way to elicit responses.
3.) Reiterate Key Points
It’s tempting to just end with a weak ‘thank you’ when faced with a lack of questions, but hold your nerve to protect your professional cachet. Another option is to succinctly recap your main points so desired takeaways are fresh in your audience’s minds.
4.) Frame the Exchange Differently
As an expert on your subject, you’ll be able to anticipate what the hot-button topics will be in your presentation. So take advantage of this: if no-one asks questions, be proactive in getting the audience to engage with the issues that matter to them. Ask a few audience members about their situations and challenges, tying their responses back to your message. Demonstrate how what you’re saying directly relates to their goals and their fears.
5.) Take Questions During Your Presentation
Responding to questions as your present makes for a collaborative discussion and actually eliminates the need for a formal Q&A. Audience members can field questions as soon as they think of them and the speaker can make sure the everyone fully understands. But this approach has its risks: pausing for questions can fragment your natural flow of information, while irrelevant queries threaten to drag it off-topic.
6.) Collect During, Answer After
Whether you should respond to questions during your presentation or dedicate time afterwards depends on your topic, message and audience. Weigh the risks and make an informed decision.
That said, with mobile devices there are ways you can collect questions without needing to stop speaking. Buffalo7’s presentation designers recommend creating a Twitter hashtag and encouraging people to tweet their queries, or using a Q&A app like Sli.do to crowdsource the best audience questions. These options mean that when it’s time for the Q&A, you’ll have a stack of questions ready to go.
For more in-depth tips on what to do when no-one asks a questions during your Q&A, visit: http://buffalo7.co.uk/presentation-designer
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