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Presentation Skills: Q&A is Crucial!

Posted by on May 9, 2012

Last time, we talked about your presentation conclusion. I promised I’d go into more detail about question/answer sessions in another blog, and here it is!

Presentation Skills

Many people see the great challenge as the presentation itself. When the questions begin, the presenter breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes. This is when trouble can begin. Responding to a question with an appropriate, efficient answer is the real challenge!

Preparation

The first step to successful Q&A sessions is preparation. Your audience expects you to be prepared for your talk, but they do not expect you to be prepared for the Question and Answer session. If you are, you will undoubtedly enhance the success of your entire presentation. The key to preparing for questions is to anticipate all questions that may be raised. Ask yourself:

  • What questions will my audience be likely to ask?
  • Who will be likely to ask questions?
  • Are there any provocative ideas that might threaten individuals in the audience?
  • What are the tough questions?
  • What are the questions I hope no one will ask?

Anticipation

To help you anticipate all questions, it is a good idea to review your presentation with:

  • Peers: who may be able to think of questions you overlooked.
  • Insiders: someone in the same industry as your audience will be able to think of questions from your audience’s perspective.
  • Outsiders: someone who is not in either your or your audience’s industry will be able to think of questions from a completely fresh perspective.

To assist you in anticipating questions, here is a list of commonly asked questions:

  • Do we really need this?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • What will happen to us if we don’t?
  • What will it cost?
  • Can we do it for less?
  • Is it in the budget?
  • What is the ROI?
  • How do we do it?
  • Who will do what?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will this action create new problems?

Once you have anticipated all questions, prepare answers for them as thoroughly as you prepared the presentation itself.

Remember

Q&A sessions give you an opportunity to continue making your point. The purpose of your presentation is to induce action. Be sure each answer you prepare will contain information that will help your audience take the action you want them to take. Always be sure your answers include benefits so your audience will understand what’s in it for them.

Karen Holmes is a U.S.-based CGWA Senior Consultant and Trainer, delivering programs such as Coaching, Interpersonal Communication Skills,Positive Power and Influence, Presentation Skills, and many more.


Presentation Skills: Your Presentation Conclusion

Posted by on March 7, 2012

Presentation SkillsLast time, we finished up your presentation body, explaining how to piece together supporting information in a way that really speaks to your audience. Now that you’ve finished the bulk of your presentation, it’s time to address the conclusion. It is just as important as the rest of your presentation, and should be considered carefully. Remember, the conclusion is the last thought you share with your audience, and what they are most likely to remember.

Unfortunately, many presentations do not conclude—they just stop, sputter and die, or worse, ramble on and on. Many excellent presentations have been ruined by a weak conclusion. The purpose of the conclusion is to summarize and ensure that you’ve met your objective. A good strong conclusion adds the finishing touch to an excellent presentation. There are four important steps to an effective conclusion:

  • Summarize key points
  • Restate action steps
  • Ask for questions
  • Give a final conclusion

Summarizing Key Points

This is the first step when concluding. In a clear, concise manner, you must tell the audience what you just told them. When you restate the key points, you should be as brief as you were in the agenda. Do not bring in any new points! You don’t want to introduce anything new at this point in time.

Restating the Action Step

Reiterate the action request you made in the introduction. Be sure your action step is assertive and positive, such as, “I’m sure you’ll agree…” or, “As I have explained…” Restating your action step at the conclusion ensures a strong, active finish. It encourages your audience to move ahead on your request.

Asking for Questions

When you reach your conclusion, it’s important that you open up your presentation to questions from the audience. They may need clarification or more information, and it’s a great way to make them feel included. We will go into more detail on question/answer sessions in our next Presentation Skills blog post.

Final Conclusion

Yes, this whole article is about your presentation conclusion, but your final conclusion is the “end of the end.” You should restate your action request once more, and be sure to thank your audience.

Remember to have your conclusion clearly in your mind before you begin your presentation. You want to be sure you conclude as strongly as you began.

Delivery Tips for the Conclusion

Use a flip chart to summarize your key points. It will keep you and your audience well organized.

Use assertive, positive language when stating the action you want them to take, i.e., “I believe,” “I know,” “I’m confident,” “I’m sure,” not “I think,” or “I hope.”

I personally believe it is essential to get hands-on, practical training in the classroom to bring these concepts to life.

Karen Holmes is a U.S.-based CGWA Senior Consultant and Trainer, delivering programs such as  Coaching, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Positive Power and Influence, Presentation Skills, and many more.


Presentation Skills: Organizing Your Presentation

Posted by on October 31, 2011

Organizing Your Presentation resized 600

Last week, we talked about how to plan your presentation. Now you need to organize your material to add clarity to your presentation. It’s important to create a structure that helps your audience understand your message. If your presentation isn’t organized, your listeners will have to search for that message. But that’s hard work, and most audiences won’t do it. If you force them to search, you will lose your audience’s attention. But organizing your presentation will keep them right there with you.

There are two ways in which you can organize your key points:

  • most to least important
  • natural progression

Most to Least Important

Look through your key points. Think in terms of what is of most interest to your audience: What is their primary concern? This is your most important point and should be the one you present first. Organize the remaining points in terms of what is most important in conveying your message, which points help people take the action you want them to take. When you are finished with this process, your key points will end up in a most to least important order.

Your most important points should be stated first because people are most attentive at the beginning of a presentation. Also, if there is a time limit, you don’t want to be cut off without having made your most important points. What a tragedy that would be!

Natural Progression

If there is a natural progression to your topic, present the material in its natural order. Natural progression include chronological order (past, present, future), time sequences (an unfolding schedule), cause and effect, advantages and disadvantages, etc.

Well-organized material helps your audience get the message!

Presentation Skills

Please tune in next time to learn about Your Presentation Introduction.

Karen Holmes is a CGWA Senior Consultant and Trainer, based in the U.S. and delivering programs such as Coaching, Positive Power and Influence, Presentation Skills, and many more.