Handling Questions Gracefully

1. Accept questions from the audience after finishing thoughts, not mid-thought. Professors do this better than students.

2. Listen. Listen to the question to ensure you understand it.

3. Answer quickly if possible. If a quick answer is not possible and the answer will be revealed in upcoming segments, ask the questioner to wait until then. If a quick answer is not possible and the answer will not be revealed in the rest of the presentation, tell the questioner that you will speak to him offline. Offline refers to after the presentation has ended and you are no longer speaking to the entire audience.

4. If the answer does not satisfy the questioner or he has a follow-up, determine what to do. You don’t want your presentation derailed by a single line of questioning, but you don’t want to look evasive either. If the question wasn’t clear to you (even after asking for the questioner to repeat), offer to answer the question offline. In small audiences, it’s better to delay and answer correctly (or explain why you don’t know) than to guess at the questioners meaning and misinterpret.

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