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Presentation Skills: Q&A is Crucial!

Posted by on May 9, 2012

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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!


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?


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.


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.