As public speakers, we understand the importance of public speaking and so we take the time to prepare our speeches. We clearly identify who we’ll be talking to, pick a topic, build a speech, practice it, and then deliver it. That’s all there is to this public speaking stuff, right? Well, not exactly. There’s the little thing called the “Q&A” portion of the speech where your audience can ask you questions about what you just said (or anything else that they want to). Got a plan for handling this?
Getting Ready To Answer A Question
There you stand, worn out from delivering the best speech of your life and now a member of your audience has asked you a tricky question. What is a speaker to do? Don’t worry about this, it’s important that you view answering your audience’s questions as being easier to do than giving a speech – you can do this!
What you’re going to want to do as you prepare to provide the audience with an answer to the question that has been asked is to buy yourself some time. The easiest way to go about doing this is by simply repeating aloud the question that you’ve been asked. This will actually accomplish two things at the same time.
The first is that it will, of course, buy you time and allow you to process in your mind just exactly what the question is – it always helps if we can hear something several times before we have to answer it. Next, by repeating the question back to the person who asked it you are able to confirm that you’ll be answering the right question – did you hear what they asked correctly?
The Body Of Your Answer
The body of your answer is where most of the information is going to go. What you’re going to want to do here is to start out by laying out your thesis – the main point in your response.
Your next step is going to be to back this thesis up with some supporting material. Since you are thinking on your feet and don’t have a lot of time here, you’re going to want to limit your justification to only three points.
If it turns out that three points are too much for you to come up with, feel free to only provide two justification points for your thesis. However, try to stay away from just providing one justification point because this probably won’t satisfy the person who is asking the question.
Wrapping It All Up
As you start to wrap up your answer the question that you’ve been asked, you’re going to want to once again revisit what you’ve already said. In your conclusion you’re going to want to restate your main point and the justification points that you used to back it up.
You may want to add one more thing to your answer. As you wrap it up, you could choose to touch on any challenges that may be brought up against your answer. By briefly discussion them as a part of your answer, you can defuse them before anyone gets a chance to ask you another question about your answer.
What All Of This Means For You
Creating and delivering a speech is a big task. However, it turns out that there’s often more to public speaking than just that. All too often speeches come equipped with a “Q&A” period right after you get done giving your speech where your audience gets a chance to ask you questions. You had better be ready for this.
You need to view the answers that you give to your audience’s questions as being mini-speeches. Each of these mini-speeches will have an opening, a body, and a closing. You’ll be thinking on your feet so be sure to use every technique to buy yourself time to think.
Your audience will leave your speech with the last words out of your mouth ringing in their heads. What this means for you is that there is a good chance that how your answer their questions is the thing that they’ll remember after your speech is over. You need to come prepared to deliver great answers to whatever questions they ask. Get good at doing this and one of the benefits of public speaking is that you’ll be the speaker who always gets asked to come back!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™
Question For You: How long do you think that you should take to answer a question?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As speakers, our most powerful tool is the words that we use. Based on the importance of public speaking we know that our goal every time that we give a speech is to capture and hold the attention of our audience. In order to do this, we need to use words that will tease and excite them. This requires us to master many different word based tools. One of the most important of these is the tool that we call satire.