How to Answer Questions Your Audience Will Ask

In elementary school, most of us asked questions which were for purely informational purposes. A raise of the hand usually got the attention of the teacher and the question was treated matter-of-factly. In training however, questions from the audience are rarely asked and when they are, they don't get the attention they deserve. However, these questions, along with other indicators, can give a trainer an abundance of information to analyze their audience. It is crucial that trainers take these questions and other indicators seriously to avoid having their presentations become one-sided.

In training, audiences don't just ask questions because they want information. In fact, simply needing information actually represent a small percentage of the motives behind audience questions. For example, an audience member is likely to ask a question because they may want to lead you and the discussion in a different direction. Someone might use a question to tell you something that they know. A trainee also might ask a question simply out of need for attention.

An audience's four basic reasons for asking questions are: to get feedback, to stimulate discussion, to provoke thought, and to maintain interest. Mishandling questions can destroy an effective talk. Always prepare for questions by knowing both your topic and the audience, and anticipate areas for potential questions. When answering questions be concerned with the whole group. Never let one person dominate; repeat or rephrase questions for the entire group. If you do not know an answer, admit it, but do try to find the answer or advise the person who asked the question where the answer might be found. An excellent technique for involving the group is encouraging others in the group to respond to questions.

Trainers are often asked questions when they haven't asked the audience for them. This often catches trainers off guard, but may alert them to an area unintentionally left out of the presentation, or alert them to a new area of audience interest. Such an unsolicited question can throw a trainer off balance, but there are methods for handling it. First of all, prepare completely in advance. Survey possible questions which might arise and come equipped with the answers. When a question is asked, listen carefully and think while it is being asked. Repeat the question to be sure that all have heard it. Pause before answering in order to concentrate. Try to draw the questioner out further if necessary. Although the best answer to a question may be another question, make sure that you never argue with an audience member. Finally, after answering the question, return as soon as possible to your main thought sequence.

Copyright AE Schwartz & Associates All rights reserved. For additional presentation materials and resources: ReadySetPresent and for a Free listing as a Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Vendor/Organization: TrainingConsortium

CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


Speak Up or Sit Down

Last night the phone rang; my wife said, "I hope... Read More

Speak to Be Heard and Understood

Use your voice to your advantage. One of your main... Read More

Public Speaking Tips

1. No speech is ever perfect. Perfectionism creates more fear.... Read More

Are You Talking the Talk?

"More learning occurs through emotion than through intellect" C.S. LewisEven... Read More

How to Build Respect with Your Audience: Positive Thinking and Outhouse Eyes

Do you believe in natural laws? Laws like:? What goes... Read More

Public Speaking - How to Make Your Next Speech Count

Along with the opening two minutes of a speech, the... Read More

20 Tips to Becoming a Professional Speaker: How to be a Rising Star

Entering the speaking industry can be both daunting and exciting.... Read More

Ten Tips on Speaking with Authority and Power

No matter how good you are as a presenter, there... Read More

A Simple Guide to Writing (and Giving) a Speech

Nearly as dreaded as snakes and spiders, public speaking ranks... Read More

Making Transitions

Ever notice how smoothly some speakers or writers move you... Read More

Earn Your Cs as A Speaker

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had some good advice for the public... Read More

Ten Steps to Fearless Public Speaking

There is plenty of dubious material which suggests you can... Read More

Conquer Presentation Anxiety: Olympic Athletes Show Us How

Whether going for the gold or giving a presentation, the... Read More

15 Ways for Speakers to Earn More Profits

There is huge potential to create additional profits from your... Read More

How To Make A Blue Ribbon Presentation Every Time

You can make a Blue Ribbon presentation each and every... Read More

Foreign Translations of Your Talk - How Do You Ensure Your Message is Delivered Properly?

There are a number of possibilities as to how this... Read More

Pay Attention To Your Appearance!

During the coffee break of one conference I attended, whispers... Read More

Speech Training - Building Your Voice, Tips from a Professional

Having a clear and confident voice is an essential business... Read More

How To Start With Public Speaking

I don't know how many books, articles, manuals and scripts... Read More

Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

Knocking knees, butterflies (who came up with that word?) in... Read More

How to Get Started In Public Speaking

Public speaking is among the five most feared activities human... Read More

7 Sure Fire Ways To Overcome Stage Fright When Speaking Or Performing

Prayer or Meditation: If you're a believer you can pray... Read More

What is Toastmasters?

Toastmasters.... Toastmasters....What is Toastmasters?Is it a bunch of guys in... Read More

For Speaking Ease, Forgive Your Younger Self

I love the Disney movie The Kid with Bruce Willis.... Read More

You Too Can Be A Public Speaker

Have you ever watched a speaker and said, "Wow, I... Read More

The Top Four Ways To Get Audience Involvement In A Presentation

In the thousands of speeches I've heard very few presenters... Read More

How to Get Paid to Speak

Now that you have all the contacts you can possibly... Read More

Internet Marketing and Public Speaking: Seven Steps to a Successful Murder Board

I recently posted an article providing tips on public speaking... Read More

13 Publicity Tips for Professional Speakers

In a funk because other speakers seem to be snagging... Read More

The Ten Ps of Dealing with Questions

Presenters and those making speeches will frequently be faced with... Read More

Overcoming Your Fears of Public Speaking

You're waiting your turn to make a speech, when suddenly... Read More

Speak With a Relaxed Body and Mind

Fear of public speaking is No.1. Death is No.4. So... Read More

What is YOUR Speaking Expertise?

Why do you have to be an expert when getting... Read More