That’s it, you’ve come to the end of your presentation! And you’re even pretty pleased with what you’ve said. But something happens to cut off your feeling of satisfaction: The Q&A phase is approaching and you’re terrified!
Since primary school, you’ve associated speaking in front of an audience with being judged and evaluated. It’s not illogical that the anguish gripping your stomach reveals itself when the time comes for questions. But you aren’t a student anymore! To help you overcome this stressful moment, here are 2 realizations and 3 steps to structure your answers in a clear and relevant manner.
We inhale, we exhale, we inhale, we exhale… Are you ready? Let’s begin!
First of all, take a few seconds to think…
To tackle the Q&A phase more calmly, keep two things in mind:
1 – You have the right not to know. You are no longer in school. Obviously, you report to others regularly, but it is not by taking on the posture of the good student that you will reassure your colleagues and your clients. Your job is not to know how to respond to everything but to be useful for those with whom you are interacting. Sometimes it comes down to knowing things that others ignore and it will be easy to answer them. But in other cases, you just have to know where to look for the information and remember to come back later to those who asked you the question.
You will always come across some smart Aleks who will try to trap you. But it’s mainly because you’ll be putting yourself in a position to be judged and they’ll want to play with it.
2 – Questions are good news. In all cases, it is in your best interest to welcome questions positively because they are good news! It means that you have successfully captured the attention of your audience and that they want to interact with you. If your presentation turns into a conversation, it’s a Godsend, because you have a boulevard before you to anchor the benefits of your promise of change. Questions are often great opportunities to deepen your points and bring up arguments that would not initially appear in your presentation.
… Then build your answer in a methodical way
Once you have welcomed the question, we advise you to build the answer with the narrative loop of the HUBSTORY®, which consists of 3 stages: Stakes, Action and Consequence
1 – Stakes
The question is not about your ability to answer it. Rather, it consists in successfully identifying why your interlocutor asked you the question to begin with. The same question asked by two different people will not have the same context, nor the same objective and therefore will not have the same answer. If you’re not careful, you may answer the question “technically,” but you will not really answer to what concerns the questioner.
Don’t hesitate therefore to ask questions in turn and to confirm that you have fully understood the reason for the question. Questioning and rephrasing, will help you see more clearly and not give the wrong answer.
2 – Action
Once the stake is clearly identified, everything becomes easier: either you know how to respond, or you don’t. In the first case, remember that when answering, the goal is not to get a good grade but to make sure that your interlocutor has understood. Also remember to consider the entire audience because it is not impossible that others have had the same question without having dared to ask it.
If you don’t know the answer it is also good news. This means that you’ve either forgotten it or never thought to know it. By looking for the answer you deepen your knowledge and can bring it up later to your questioner; this way you’ll have the opportunity to nourish the relationship while emphasizing your reliability and your interest in the subject.
3 – Consequence
In order for your response to impact your audience more effectively, it must have consequences for them. Consider giving some examples of practice, things that will no longer be done the same way due to consequences. The more you project your audience into the future, the more they will remember it and the more they will concretely use your response. You will no longer appear as someone who has an answer for everything but as someone who knows what the answers can be used for, and who knows how to use them to change things.
Of course, there will always be someone to heckle your project a little bit. But these people are ultimately beneficial to your speeches. They reveal that you are ready and that you are not there to defend yourself but to defend your ideas.