Advertising
Advertising

Avoiding Presentation Panic: Dealing With More Questions

Avoiding Presentation Panic: Dealing With More Questions

    A while ago I wrote about how to predict the questions you might get asked in a presentation – after all, if you can predict them you can prepare answers to them, right? You can even rehearse those answers so that you look really slick.

    So much for planning, but it doesn’t always work. With the best will in the world you’re going to get ambushed occasionally.

    The best laid plans of mice and men…

    So what to do if you don’t have a pre-prepared answer to to the question? Well the worst thing you can do is bluff. Never make it up. Even if you don’t get caught out (and you will, usually) you deserve to.

    Advertising

    Your best bet (assuming you’ve not got it covered) is to use one of the formula for improvising. It’s important to realise that anything you say (including answers to questions therefore) consists of two elements

    • structure – how you say it
    • content – what you say

    and if you’re improvising, you have to work on both of these simultaneously. Using a tried and trusted formula to cover the structure means that you can concentrate almost entirely on the content.

    Concentrate on your content

    There are quite a few of these formulas but the most famous (and perhaps the most flexible) is PREP, which stands for

    • Point – a broad, bold statement of what you believe in very few words
    • Reason – a logical support of your position
    • Example – a personal and emotional example of how your idea would work in practise
    • Point – a restatement of your point.

    Let’s try and example.

    Advertising

    “Yes, I believe women should have the vote.” (Your Point).

    “After all they comprise over half the workforce of the country and create nearly half the country’s GDP!” (Your reason).

    “For example, in my own household my wife earns about 20% more than I do, which makes her the economic head of the household and it seems silly for the head not to vote.” (Your example)

    “Overall then, I’m in favour of women having a vote.” (Your point once more)

    Advertising

    Your last resort – Confess instead.

    But don’t just confess – confession is good for the soul but not very practical for you as a speaker so you need to follow it up with something. The magic you need is to follow up your confession with a specific and timed assurance that you’ll find out.

    Saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know,” is better than making something up.

    Saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know – I’ll find out,” is better.

    Saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know – I’ll find out and get back to you,” is a bit better still.

    Advertising

    Saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know – I’ll find out and get back to you by X-o’clock on Y-day. Can I check your email address is…?” is your best option of all.

    In other words, the more specific you are about when and how you’ll provide that information the more likely it is that your questioner will be satisfied and that the rest of your audience will respect your response, allowing you to move on with your credibility relatively undamaged.

    A vague promise to find out won’t fool anyone – a specific promise tied to a time, a date and a medium of communication will. It goes without saying (surely) that if you promise to tell someone by a certain time and place then you actually do that – right?

    Personally, however, I’d say that (effective though this approach is) you can only use it twice and should only use it once for any given presentation. To be honest, if you feel the need to use it more than that you weren’t prepared enough!

    More by this author

    A Simple Tool to Boost Your Motivation Nothing Prevents You From Asking Questions Time Management is a Personal Problem… The Trick to Timing Presentations The Way to Success: Know What It Looks Like

    Trending in Communication

    1 12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons 2 4 Types of Toxic People and How to Deal with Them 3 Why We Lose Motivation Once in a While and How to Fix It 4 Why You Need to Ask for Feedback…and How to Use It 5 6 Challenges in Life You Must Overcome to Become a Better Person

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on October 14, 2019

    12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons

    12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons

    The most valuable thing an experienced person has is their experience. People make mistakes, learn from them, and adapt their life around them to become better people. Those people would then tell tales to others to help teach those lessons so that others would not have to make the same mistakes.

    People still tell these stories today but in a slightly different format — they use speeches to express their experiences. Here are some valuable life lessons you can learn from some of the greatest inspirational speeches:

    1. JK Rowling teaches us to not fear failure no matter how bad things become

    It is a well-known fact that JK Rowling’s now-famous Harry Potter series was turned down by several publishers before it was finally picked up. Those publishers are likely kicking themselves in the pants right now. However, before that, JK Rowling was in a fairly dire situation and was on the brink of failure. Despite being turned down time and time again, she kept trying. Her efforts paid off. Harry Potter is now a ubiquitous character in today’s world culture. Despite failing over and over again, Rowling kept trying and fulfilled her dreams. You can watch her deliver some valuable life lessons in her Harvard commencement speech video above.

    2. Steve Jobs teaches us to never settle

    Steve Jobs had a fairly tumultuous life. He co-founded Apple, was kicked out of the company, came back, and then re-defined the mobile phone space with the iPhone. Even if iPhones aren’t the rage they once were, its iconic value is forever written in stone. One thing Jobs never did was settle. He lived life on his own terms and was rewarded for it by being dubbed one of the most revolutionary voices in technology of our time. In the Stanford commencement speech above, Jobs explains how you should never settle for what someone else wants out of your life. It’s your life and you should do what you want with it.

    Advertising

    3. Admiral William H McRaven teaches us to make our beds every day

    Anyone who has gone through the basic training of a military service will tell you it’s pretty difficult. However, every seemingly obnoxious step is actually a life lesson in disguise. This even applies to flawlessly making one’s bed every single morning. As Admiral William H McRaven teaches us, recruits are taught to make their beds every morning to remind them that even the little things in life matter. After all, how can you be expected to handle the biggest obstacles in your life if you can’t even handle the small and the mundane like making your bed every day? You can watch the entire speech in the video above.

    4. Author David Foster Wallace teaches us that we’re a part of a greater existence

    David Foster Wallace found fame in 1987 with his book The Broom of the System. Nearly 20 years later in 2005 he game a commencement speech at Kenyon College that is worth listening to at least once. In his speech, he reminds us that was are but a part of a huge, dynamic, ever changing interaction of life forms. In order to truly experience life, we need to leave our personal bubbles and interact with others even if it’s in an unpleasant way. Wallace states, “It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.” You can watch the whole speech above.

    5. Stephen Colbert teaches us that life isn’t something you can plan

    If there is anyone who knows about improvisation, it’s comedian Stephen Colbert. In his commencement speech at Northwestern University in 2011, Colbert reminded students that you cannot plan life. Life throws too many curve balls. There are too many unpredictable things that can happen. The most successful and happy people are not those who have a plan, but those who can roll with the punches and overcome the obstacles. He goes on to site his time as an improv comic and how all of the actors working together to create a scene out of literally nothing are all working for one another. He states that like improv comedy, you don’t know what happens next in life. You just make it up as you go along. You can watch the whole speech above.

    6. Kurt Vonnegut teaches us to not sweat the small stuff

    Some of our younger readers may not know Kurt Vonnegut. He is a famous author that found of of his success during the middle of last century. In 1999, Kurt Vonnegut was at Agnes Scott College giving a commencement speech. During the speech, he mentioned that in order to live a more complete life, people needed to let stuff go. He argued that you cannot reasonably expect others to forgive you for your mistakes if you cannot forgive others and that you cannot live life fostering a personal vendetta against others.

    Advertising

    7. Neil Gaiman teaches us that success can be distracting.

    Neil Gaiman is most known for his work in a number of literary mediums including journalism, comic books, and novels. In 2012, Gaiman gave a speech at the University of the Arts where he talked about success. He stated that when you become successful, you may be unintentionally swayed from performing the actions that made you successful. Gaiman recalled his early success and how he felt pressured to answer emails all day long and it actually prevented him from writing as much as he wanted. So he reminds us to keep doing what makes us successful and to not let others get in the way.

    8. Barack Obama’s life lessons teaches us that you really can beat the odds

    We know that not everyone likes Barack Obama but that doesn’t mean the man can’t deliver an amazing speech. In this 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convenction, Obama reminds that it is possible to beat the odds and become something great. He cites his own upbringing as an example and how he was never expected to make it as far as he did. It shows that when you’re passionate about something and when you try hard enough, you can accomplish almost anything. It’s important to note that Obama talks about this in 2004 and would become the President of the United States just four years later.

    9. Robin Roberts reminds us that we each have the courage to overcome challenges

    Robin Roberts knows a thing or two about courage. She is a breast cancer survivor and has done battle with a rare blood disease called myelodysplastic syndrome. Her sister once had to donate bone marrow just so Robin could remain alive. She was also ESPN’s first African American broadcaster in the early 1990’s. She’s a woman who works in an industry predominately populated by men. So when Robin Roberts takes the stage at the ESPYs and delivers a short lecture on having courage, we would do well to listen!

    10. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that some things are more important than success

    We all know the story of Martin Luther King Jr. So much so that we have a day of the year to celebrate him as a national holiday here in the United States. Most of us have listening to segments of his famous speech where he told the world about a dream he had. The main message of his famous speech is that racial inequalities needed to end and he was absolutely right. However, he also reminds us that there are things that are more important than success such as equal rights and treating each other with respect and kindness. If you somehow made it through school without watching the famous speech, we’ve got it linked above.

    Advertising

    11. Jim Carrey reminds us that even if you keep it safe, you can still fail so you might as well go big

    Jim Carrey delivered a commencement speech at Maharishi University recently that went absolutely viral. You may know it as the one minute video that will change your life. They weren’t lying but they weren’t telling the whole truth because the speech was actually 28 minutes long. During the speech, Carrey talks about his father who wanted to be a comedian but decided to take the safe route and become an accountant. As it turns out, his father was laid off and his family ended up poor anyway. With that, Carrey tells us that you can still end up failing even if you play it safe so you might as well swing for the fences and do what you want to do.

    12. Bill Murray teaches us that it’s the hard times that determine if someone really loves you

    You may have heard the story about Bill Murray crashing someone’s bachelor party and delivering a speech. It turns out the speech was both short and fairly epic. During the speech, Bill Murray challenged the bachelors to travel around the world with the women they love and go to places that are difficult to go to and deal with. He says if you can get back to the United States and you still love each other, then you should get married right then and there. It’s a great message. It’s easy to love one another when times are good but do you still love each other when the times are bad? If so, that’s true love according to Bill Murray.

    Final thoughts

    Inspiration comes from everywhere and from anyone. There are a countless number of speeches and stories that can teach us an incalculable number of life lessons.

    All these speeches almost share the same message: Don’t be afraid to fail and keep trying.

    Advertising

    If you also want to live your best life like the above successful people, this is what you should start doing:

    You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

    At the end of the day, everything is inspirational. It’s just a matter of finding the message that we need to hear to change our lives.

    Featured photo credit: Miguel Henriques via unsplash.com

    Read Next