The Q & A session of a presentation can be a great way to engage with an audience. However, sometimes a presenter may freeze in a situation where they are receiving more rigorous or abrasive questions. That’s because when we feel attacked, our brain goes into defense mode and it inhibits our ability to calmly analyze the question. Therefore, try these tips when encountering more "persistent" queries from audience members.
1. Reframe their aggression
When someone’s delivery is more aggressive, it’s important to remember that they probably aren’t focusing on how they are asking the question. Instead, they are feeling confused and require assistance. This helps reframe the situation from an “attack” into an opportunity to help.
2. Relax your body
When we are bracing for a question, we often tense before we respond. When you’re tense, you’re not able to think as easily. Instead, try exhaling before answering. Or, if you notice your jaw or shoulders are tight, try relaxing them. The more physically at ease you are, the more you’ll be able to think on your feet.
3. Remember you have options
When we put a lot of pressure on a moment, it’s harder to think creatively. That’s why it’s important to remind yourself that there are options to follow up with someone. For example, you could email them and say, “Thanks for your interest in my work. I wasn’t able to come up with the response on the spot yesterday, but now that I’ve had some time I wanted to reach out.” Just because the event is over, doesn’t mean the opportunity to respond has ended.
Whenever we have one of these moments, it’s tough. Try to reframe, relax, and remind yourself that you have multiple options to follow up with folks. Keeping these things in mind can help you feel more at ease and ready for questions.
Author: Bri McWhorter
Bri McWhorter is the Founder and CEO of Activate to Captivate.