Tips for Handling a Post-Presentation Q&A

January 27, 2016

You’ll rarely encounter presentations that won’t raise any questions in your clients’ minds. In fact, your presentations should make your audience think– that means you’ve gotten them interested in what you’ve just shown them. On the other hand, they might disagree with everything you’ve just laid out for them. That’s why finishing off your presentation with a post-presentation Q&A session can help you anticipate possible objections, gain common ground with your audience, and seal the deal.

Don’t end your presentation with a generic ‘Thank You’ slide. Instead, take the opportunity to engage your audience and perhaps convince them even further with the following tips:

1. If Your Audience Disagrees, Identify the Cause

“There’s a difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, a concerned person solves a problem.”

– Harold Stephens

As the old adage says, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as we speak.” If you want people to take your side, you should spend more time listening to what your audience has to say than talking about yourself or your company. This means you shouldn’t interrupt anybody who’s in the process of asking you a question. Once they’re done speaking, think carefully about what they just said before crafting your own response.

For instance, what are all the possible reasons they could have for opposing your idea? Take your client’s background and story into consideration. In fact, you should do your homework about the audience you’ll be presenting to even before you step onstage and utter a single word.

For example, if you’re speaking to people who are interested in cars and sports, and half of the audience is made up of people more interested in arts and crafts, then you’re not speaking to the right people.

Ask yourself about the possible differences in terms of social influences, personal values, and standards, as well as decision-making processes, and how these trigger their concerns. This puts you in a better position to negotiate for a better deal over the competition. It’s the simplest way of showing your audience respect, letting them know that you value their thoughts on your presentation.

2. Keep Control of the Argument

“When we have begun to take charge of our lives, to own ourselves, there is no longer any need to ask permission of someone.”

– George O’Neil

According Dr. Lund, people interpret messages based on someone’s tone of voice before judging what they said based on their body language. Losing your audience is the last thing you want to happen. The Q&A portion is the perfect time for you to discuss your topic in more detail, but it can backfire on you if you aggressively confront your audience.

Avoid raising your voice or speaking too quickly when faced with unexpected negative feedback. Instead, stay professional by maintaining your composure, and respond in a conversational tone.

Communicate the boundaries of your sales pitch by clarifying what you can and cannot offer. Acknowledge the question, and reiterate your position as firmly and as confidently as possible. If a client shows disinterest or outright rejection, tweak your message in a way that’s profitable for both sides. Sometimes, it’s enough to let them know that you don’t currently know the answer but will get back to them when you do.

Just make sure that you follow up with them to keep the door open for another business opportunity.

3. Highlight the Benefits of Your Proposal

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”

– Steve Jobs

Since people are always looking for a guarantee that they’ll get their money’s worth, debriefing your prospects on your proposal’s benefits can make them trust you and close the sale.

Apply a client-centered approach that reinforces your message and involves your audience. Use descriptive words to accurately describe what your client wants. Then, explain how your products or services can help them achieve their desired results. In the same way, discuss, in specific terms, the benefits that they can reap from signing the contract or purchasing an item. Delve into important features that are particularly helpful in meeting your prospect’s needs.

4. Avoid Ums, Likes, You Knows

Blurting out fillers such as “um,” “like,” and “you know” can damage your credibility as a speaker. These expressions distract your audience from what you’re actually trying to say, making you seem unprepared and unprofessional.

Saying “um” may indicate you’re not sure about your answer, while “like” and “you know” may mean everything you say is your own opinion. Cut down on these words to keep your clients focused on your main idea and not on the unnecessary parts of your speech.

Eliminate the filler virus by anticipating potential questions, listing down your ideas, and learning proper pausing and breathing. These things can help you remedy the verbal virus of fillers.

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5. End on a Good Note

Ending your pitch with a Q&A session is a great opportunity to show them that you’re not just there to give them facts, but that you’re there to get your audience’s inputs and solve their problems. Even if you have the best idea in the world, keep an eye on your body language, vocal tone, and brevity. These might influence your audience’s final impression of you and your idea.

Identify the causes of their concerns, discuss what you can and can’t do, and highlight the benefits to meet your clients half way and ensure your presentation’s success.

Now it’s your turn to practice these concepts. Keep these Q&A tips in mind to end your speech on a good note.

Additional Reading

about the author

CEO & Founder, SlideGenius Rick Enrico is the CEO and Founder of SlideGenius, Inc. He regularly publishes expert presentation tips on the SlideGenius blog. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.