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Effective Public Speaking – Part 3: Effective Ways to Respond to Questions
In part 1, I covered some dos and don’ts in public speaking, while in part 2, I cover conversation skills. In this article, I will cover effective ways a public speaker could respond to questions during their speech delivery.
Understand HOW you should answer
It is important to give consideration to not just what to say in answer to a question, but how it is said.
It is crucial to discern what a member of your audience is really asking. It might be the inquirer is interested in matters much deeper than the question posed. If you are able to discern the innermost intention of the one asking the question, then that is what should be addressed first, not necessarily the question posed. In other words, as much as possible, make sure you satisfy the real motives and intention of those who ask questions. Take a few moments, perhaps seconds, to think deeply of the questions asked. You might ask the inquirer, a series of questions yourself, in other to clarify matters and to ensure you clearly understand what is being asked.
Discerning Sincere Interest from Disrupters
Unfortunately, some in your audience may be haters, disrupters or commotion seekers.
It might be that some questions are better left unanswered, for the protection of the greater audience. You the speaker has to be bold, be able to maintain effective control of the delivery and be able to turn down useless or inappropriate question. But then, again, how you do this is crucial. You have to show maturity, calmness and wisdom when turning down inappropriate questions. Never show yourselves enraged or out of control, otherwise the hater would have won, as that is exactly what they want. Graciousness in responding to any question (whether appropriate or inappropriate question) is vital for effective public speakers.
When you don’t know the answer
What about if you don’t know the answer to the question being asked? Instead of merely given it your best shot, and end up giving a wrong answer why not try the following in all humility:
1. Offer to make some research or some consulting and retuning back to the inquirer with the correct answer at a later time or day?
2. Ask others in the audience to volunteer to answer. While the some in the audience attempt at answering, ideas may crop up in your head, and you may be in a position to provide the answer.
3. Remember that humility is not a weakness, but an asset, so plainly admit that you simply do not know the answer and you will find out the answer. This does not make you less human, nor does it disqualify you from being an expert in your field. It simply confirms the fact that you are still a “student” of some sort. Know human knows it all.
Be very generous with commendation. Always start with commending anyone who asks a question. No matter who or what is asked, firstly commend.
Commendation does a lot of things, such as:
Putting you and the questioner at ease.
It is a fine time to have a break from the delivery.
It confirms that people are interested in the topic.
It provides opportunity to steer the delivery towards the audience, instead of going off in tangent.
It is an opportunity to further educate your audience.
It’s a sort of fine feedback to you the speaker.
Welcome questions during your delivery.
Seek for questions.
Show discernment and wisdom before opening your mouth to answer any question.