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Presentations Skills - In Handling Questions

Updated on November 11, 2013

Handling questions for presentations

Before responding to a question


Always listen carefully to the questions asked. This enables you to show you are interested and sort out any confusing if the question is muddled.


Determine quickly the nature and intent of th question. Ask yourself if the questioner is hostile or sincere. This would help you decide on the most appropriate response.


Confirm that you have understood the question. Use paraphrasing to check your accuracy. Your paraphases could be worded along these lines: "Let me make sure I've understood. What you're asking is... Is that right?" or "Am I correct in understanding you're concerned with...?"


Acknowledge the questioner even if he is not in agreement with you. You could do this through statements like "That's an interesting question...". But take care not to overdo these statements or you may sound insincere.

Your aim here is to maintain a positive relationship with the audience because your response influences your audiences' reaction towards you.

Responding to a Question

How you respond would depend on several factors -

  • If the question is simple, answer it concisely.
  • If the question is complex, confine yourself to the most important 2 or 3 facets of the question.
  • IF the question reflects a genuine lack of understanding on the part of the questioner, find out why the question arises. If it was due to an oversight on our part when we present, then respond to the question with a statement of the point we've omitted. If the confusion is the result of a difference in the way a questioner views the issue, then our answer sould attempt to clarify using comparisons/analogies which the questioner can relate to. Also, it may be useful to point people to refences which you have found useful.

If we don't know the answer to a question, we can

  • Admit we don't know
  • Ask others if they can share.
  • Ask the questioner (boomerang technique)
  • Find the answer and get back to the questioner

If the questions are hostile, we can evade by

  • Firstly showing we understand and then introduce an alternative point of view. e.g. Yes I see your point... However, I know you'll appreciate...
  • Not accepting responsibility. e.g. I'm afraid I'm not the right person to answer that...
  • Delaying. e.g. I'm not sure if this is the right place/time to discuss this particular issue...


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    • myrontay profile image

      Myron Tay 8 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks :)

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 8 years ago from Ohio

      Good advise on answering questions. This can be used in many situations, personal and public.