Your Q&A Session: 5 Tips for Success
After your speech there is a definite sigh of relief. Don’t walk away, you aren’t finished yet! One of the most important parts is the following Q&A session that comes after the speech. This is where your audience can find out more detail about some of the information you brought up in your speech. After years of presenting my own speeches, and listening to others’ speeches, including many, many students, I have come up with a short list of tips to get you successfully through the Q&A session.
1. Relax. The formal speech is over. But don’t relax too much because the Q&A session is still a part of your speech presentation. Keep the same professionalism and attention to your audience by using the same language style that you used in your speech (not resorting to slang), don’t resort to leaning on the desk or podium and keep your eye contact. Knowing that your speech is finished is a relief, however, you still want to finish with a strong Q&A.
2. Come Prepared. Anticipate that your audience will have questions about points you made in your speech. For example, you could expand on one of your stories that you provided in relation to your points.
3. Invite Questions. If your audience is a bit quiet at first, give them time to gather their thoughts. This is also a time for you to bring up more details on a specific part of your speech that might ignite questions. For example, “when I mentioned that GMOs are becoming more prevalent even in rural areas, I was referring to areas such as Humboldt.” This is a time for your audience members to show their interest in your topic by asking questions about things that you couldn’t fit detail in due to the time limit. Remember, this is where you pull all that research out of your back pocket and provide more interesting information to your audience.
4. Respond with honesty. If someone asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, say so. Honesty truly is the best policy. You might even suggest, that you will go research it and come back to share at a later point. Feel free to post your feedback on the course Moodle site to share with the entire class. This contributes to your credibility as a speaker and your audience is more likely to have trust in your ability as a speaker. If you receive a question that challenges what your belief and/or speech addressed, validate the person’s opinion and reiterate some of the points you made in a non-threatening, non-challenging manner. For example, “I hear and respect your points on this issue. One of the points I made addressed the need for more homeless shelters based on data from these two credible resources.”
5. Explain with clarity. Be sure to respond to questions specifically and clearly. Going off topic can frustrate the person asking the question. Again, if you don’t have a solid answer, admit that you don’t and
The Q&A session is a great time to learn more about what interested your audience members and what they took away from your speech. This can also help guide you in making improvements in your next speech. Audience questions are a good sign that they were listening and are interested in your topic.