When you are speaking to an audience, whether it be a corporate presentation, a keynote speech, a workshop, webinar or selling your product, an incredibly important part of your speech is giving your audience the opportunity to ask questions. Opening up the floor to questions, not only allows your audience to clarify any points from your speech they may have, it further engages the audience in your message and shows that you respect the views/ideas of your audience. So what is THE BEST way to open up your forum to questions and how to answer them?
1. When to open the floor to audience questions.
2. Say my name, Say my name.
3. This is not a private conversation.
4. Off the track? No need for derailment.
You want your audience to come away from your presentation or workshop, enthused, engaged and buzzing with your powerful words and images. The final message from any presentation should be yours, rather than an audience members question clarifying point 3 from 20 minutes previous. Do not leave audience questions till the end. You can either ask if anyone has any questions about 3/4s of the way through your presentation or, at the start of your presentation make it clear that you are happy to answer questions throughout. Ultimately ensure that the final words… are your words in your strong, powerful conclusion.
When speaking to a larger audience, say anything over 40 people, it is good idea to encourage any audience member with a question to stand and say their name, and if appropriate, where they are from, before asking their question. This simple, polite gesture not only allows the audience to hear the question more clearly, it allows you to show interest and further engage your audience. In answering the question, ensure you thank them and use their name. Your audience will feel valued and respected.
If the audience member has a question relating to a small point in your presentation, thank them and invite them to sit while you answer. At the end of every question, or perhaps say every three or four questions, thank them with applause or some form of recognition.
Ensure that any question that your audience asks, does not become a conversation between two people. If standing, move to a more inclusive, open space on the stage so that the audience feel you are answering the question for everyone. Use broad, inclusive hand gestures that encompass everyone. Look at your entire audience or even ask the audience a question which clarifies a point you are making with your answer. It is perfectly acceptable, in answering a question that is not of broad interest or benefit to the group, to offer to speak one on one after the presentation. Which leads to…?
Sometimes a question that an audience member feels is important may, in fact, be off the track and the audience may benefit as a whole if the discussion was taken ‘offline’. As always, thank them for their question and invite the audience member to speak with you after the presentation. At the same time, invite any audience members who may feel uncomfortable speaking in a public forum, or wish to speak with you one on one afterwards, that you are available. Your audience will feel valued because you are accessible and often business opportunities arise from one on one discussion at the end of a presentation or speech.
How you handle questions gives your audience a clear insight into the type of person you are and how you approach your clients and community. Community is everything, and winning your audiences respect will ultimately boost your profile, your community, your sales and your clients.
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Verity Robins is an international award winning professional speaker. Through The Speaker She trains, coaches and speaks on dynamic speaking skills for entrepreneurs to help them speak and grow rich. Through Argent Star she works specifically with executives, managers and corporate workers to deliver with confidence and class. With over 16 years experience, working with thousands of individuals, Verity uses simple, effective and income producing techniques that achieve amazing results.
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