Ways to Prepare for & Deal with Challenging Questions

How to deal with challenging questions - Janice Haywod

Ways to Prepare for & Deal with Challenging Questions

When you prepare your presentation, you’re in total control and ready to deal with challenging questions.

When you deliver your presentation you lose a little control because you can never be absolutely sure that your content will land exactly how you want it to.

But when it comes to questions from the audience, this is the point where you have very little control because you can never know for sure, what questions you will get asked. This is the reason that many people dread the Q&A of a presentation. Because of the uncertainty.

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So our aim here is to regain as much control as possible which will help you to feel less anxious.

Here are some tips you can follow:

Once you have finished preparing and structuring your content, look over it with your audience in mind and try to see points that may be susceptible to questions. Perhaps there are members of the audience who like more detail – where might they ask for more detail? Or perhaps you feel that your evidence isn’t very tight at certain points in your presentation – what questions might come up here?

Another approach is to pre-empt questions as below and prepare your answers:

  • What are the obvious questions you think you might be asked?
  • What are the challenging questions?
  • What is the one question that would make you panic?

In addition to preparing answers to questions, you also need to prepare responses for when you can’t or don’t want to answer.

Responses such as “I’m afraid I don’t that off the top of my head. Can I check and get back to you?”

Or “Sorry, but that’s not my field, I believe xxx can help you there”.

And one of my favourite strategies for dealing with challenging questions is to throw it back to the questioner or to the rest of the audience. You might say something like “That’s a really interesting question, I hadn’t thought about it before. What do YOU think?” Or “What does anyone else think?”  Tap into the wealth of knowledge in the room. You can then piggyback on their answers.

At the end of the day, it’s important to have a constructive mindset around the possibility of not being able to answer certain questions. Be ok with the fact that this will happen. Nobody can know everything. It’s about HOW you respond. If you respond (whether answering the question or not) with calmness and gravitas you will retain your credibility as an effective presenter.


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My mission is to help employees in multinational companies learn the skills and techniques they need to give outstanding presentations in English and receive the visibility and recognition they deserve.

feel confident and engage with your audience Janice Haywood