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The ABCs of Q&A Sessions in Public Speaking

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

"To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did." - Unknown

During presentations, the question-and-answer part is an excellent opportunity to know how much the audience understood or did not understand from all of that speaking you did. It is also best to show your sense of humor if you have one. Also, the question-and-answer part is a suitable way to get your audience to participate.

The most used way, if not the most boring, to open the question-and-answer part is: are there any questions? Or now, let us take in questions.

To make the presentation more fun for them as well as for you, as the presenter, to appear you are enjoying your time and are also having fun, why don't you try saying this to open the session on the question and answer: The last presentation I had, the first question I received was, `Aren't you tired yet? And `Do you have the time?

To continually captivate your audience as much as possible, you should try to do something different from people's regular presentations. It is also a clever idea if you prepare for the question-and-answer part. Try to think of the possible questions some people in your audience may ask after your presentation. Use these before you supply a solution that is serious and real. Now that you have a clever idea, create good-natured humor to go along with your answers.

The audience will think best of you if you provide them with a witty remark that, in their opinion, seems spontaneous and does not appear rehearsed, even if it is.

But what if no one dares ask the first question? This problem will be automatically solved by planting this time rehearsed questions on some members of the audience.

You could select some people from the audience and ask them ever so politely to aid you with your post-presentation session. You may ask them as you are researching the profile of the audience you will be presenting to or while you are warming up to them before the program. If they agree to be your accomplice, request that they raise their hand when you open the session on question and answer. This is the time that they will be asking you that pseudo-question.

The question you will ask them serves two purposes: to break the ice through humor and encourage others to ask their fundamental questions, or they should be amused enough to stay still and listen until the end of your presentation.

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