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Leadership Communication Skill #24: Handle Questions Directly

By Stephanie Bickel


Handling questions effectively can make or break your presentation. It’s the moment that sets you apart from other speakers, showcasing your ability to think on your feet, demonstrating maturity, knowledge, relaxation, and comfort. What if you believed there was no such thing as a difficult question? This mindset can revolutionize the way you approach Q&A sessions.

Listen to the full lesson on Apple iTunes.



The Power of Positive Belief


Many people view questions, especially challenging ones, as the hardest part of their job. They fear gotcha-type questions, off-the-wall inquiries, or those with a hidden agenda. However, this negative belief can hold you back from becoming a great speaker. Instead, adopt a new belief: “I can handle any question. I enjoy all questions.” This positive mindset shift will enhance your listening skills, eye contact, and overall presence, making you a better speaker.


Engage with Your Audience


Imagine you’re watching a speaker deliver a flawless presentation. They finish, relax, and then suddenly change their demeanor as they ask for questions, signaling a shift in style. This should not be the case. Your Q&A section should seamlessly continue the conversational tone of your presentation. Treat your entire talk as a dialogue, planting seeds of desire and intrigue that invite a flood of questions. The more questions you receive, the better. This engagement shows you’ve piqued your audience’s interest and made them feel safe to ask questions.


Avoid Common Pitfalls


There are several common mistakes speakers make during Q&A sessions:


1. Answering the Wrong Question:

Ensure you understand the question before responding. Repeat or reframe the question if necessary.


2. Over-Explaining:

Answer only the question that was asked. Provide concise responses to allow more questions to be addressed.


3. Sounding Unsure:

Avoid words and phrases like “maybe,” “might,” “sort of,” and “a little bit.” These can make you appear uncertain or unconfident.


Four Best Practices for Handling Questions


To handle questions effectively, follow these four best practices:


1. Confirm You Understand the Question: Restate or clarify the question to ensure you understand it correctly.


2. Answer Only the Question Asked: Stick to the question without going off on tangents.


3. Answer Directly in the First Sentence: Provide a clear and direct answer immediately, followed by any necessary details.


4. Remove Unnecessary Language: Eliminate filler words and hedging language to sound more confident and decisive.


Handling questions directly is a skill that can significantly enhance your leadership and public speaking effectiveness. By adopting a positive mindset, engaging with your audience, avoiding common pitfalls, and following best practices, you can transform your Q&A sessions into opportunities to showcase your confidence and expertise.


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Join Speak by Design University to dive deeper into these techniques and improve your communication skills. Work with a private coach, participate in live group coaching sessions, and access a wealth of resources to elevate your speaking abilities.


By integrating these strategies, you’ll handle questions with confidence and clarity, leaving a lasting impression on your audience. Start practicing today and watch your speaking skills soar.

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