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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.

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    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.

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    “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)

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    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.

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    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!

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    Last Updated on December 16, 2018

    12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

    12 Simple Ways You Can Build A Positive Attitude

    We all look for a better and happier life, but somehow we realize it’s our attitude that makes it hard to lead the life we want. How can we build a positive attitude? Grant Mathews has listed out the things (from the easiest to the hardest) we can do to cultivate this attitude on Quora:

    1. Listen to good music.

    Music definitely improves your mood, and it’s a really simple thing to do.

    2. Don’t watch television passively.

    Studies have shown that people who watch TV less are happier, which leads me to my next point…

    3. Don’t do anything passively.

    Whenever I do something, I like to ask myself if, at the end of the day, I would be content saying that I had spent time doing it. (This is why I block sites I find myself wasting too much time on. I enjoy them, but they’re just not worth it when I could be learning something new, or working on projects I care about.)

    Time is incredibly valuable.

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    4. Be aware of negativity

    A community that considers itself intelligent tends to be negativity because criticizing is seen as a signaling mechanism to indicate that you’re more intelligent than the person you corrected. This was irrationally frustrating for me – it’s one of those things you’ll stay up all night to think about.

    5. Make time to be alone.

    I initially said “take time just to be alone.” I changed it because if you don’t ensure you can take a break, you’ll surely be interrupted.

    Being with other people is something you can do to make you happy, but I don’t include it in this list because nearly everyone finds time to talk with friends. On the other hand, spending time just with yourself is almost considered a taboo.

    Take some time to figure out who you are.

    6. Exercise.

    This is the best way to improve your immediate happiness.

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    Exercise probably makes you happy. Try and go on a run. You’ll hate yourself while doing it, but the gratification that you get towards the end vastly outweighs the frustration of the first few attempts. I can’t say enough good things about exercise.

    Exercising is also fantastic because it gives you time alone.

    7. Have projects.

    Having a goal, and moving towards it, is a key to happiness.

    You have to realize though that achieving the goal is not necessarily what makes you happy – it’s the process. When I write music, I write it because writing is inherently enjoyable, not because I want to get popular (as if!).

    8. Take time to do the things you enjoy.

    That’s very general, so let me give you a good example.

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    One of the things that has really changed my life was finding small communities centered around activities I enjoy. For instance, I like writing music, so I’m part of a community that meets up to write a song for an hour every week. I love the community. I’ve also written a song every week, 37 weeks in a row, which has gradually moved me towards larger goals and makes me feel very satisfied.

    9. Change your definition of happiness.

    Another reason I think I’m more happy than other people is because my definition of happiness is a lot more relaxed than most people’s. I don’t seek for some sort of constant euphoria; I don’t think it’s possible to live like that. My happiness is closer to stability.

    10. Ignore things that don’t make you happy.

    I get varying reactions to this one.

    The argument goes “if something is making you unhappy, then you should find out why and improve it, not ignore it.” If you can do that, great. But on the other hand, there’s no reason to mope about a bad score on a test.

    There’s another counterargument: perhaps you’re moping because your brain is trying to work out how to improve. In fact, this is the key purpose of depression: Depression’s Upside – NYTimes.com

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    I can think of examples that go both ways. I remember, for instance, when I was debating a year or two ago and my partner and I would lose a round, I would mull over what we had done wrong for a long time. In that way, I got immensely better at debate (and public speaking in general – did you know debate has amazing effects on your public speaking ability? But now I really digress).

    On the other hand, there’s no way that mulling over how dumb you were for missing that +x term on the left hand side will make you better at math. So stop worrying about it, and go practice math instead.

    11. Find a way to measure your progress, and then measure it.

    Video games are addictive for a reason: filling up an experience bar and making it to the next level is immensely satisfying. I think that it would be really cool if we could apply this concept to the real world.

    I put this near the bottom of the list because, unfortunately, this hasn’t been done too often in the real world – startup idea, anyone? So you would have to do it yourself, which is difficult when you don’t even know how much you’ve progressed.

    For a while, I kept a log of the runs I had taken, and my average speed. It was really cool to see my improvement over the weeks. (Also, I was exercising. Combining the two was fantastic for boosting happiness.)

    12. Realize that happiness is an evolutionary reward, not an objective truth.

    It’s easy to see that this is correct, but this is at the bottom of the list for a reason.

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