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How to Avoid Panic in Presentations: Coping with Questions

How to Avoid Panic in Presentations: Coping with Questions

    I’m sure you’ve felt it: the horror at the end of a presentation (which, let’s face it, can be a bit of a trauma in its own right) when you ask the following:

    “Any questions?”

    There seems to be one of two ways things can go at that moment — and neither fills you with delight.

    Firstly, there’s the Tumbleweed Option. Silence. Nothing — save perhaps for an embarrassed cough. Was your presentation really so bad that no one could understand it enough to think of a coherent question? Did you run over time so badly no one wants to hold up the next speaker, or – more importantly – get to the coffee break? Did you give such a perfect presentation that all possible questions were answered? (Spoiler alert: You didn’t.)

    Option two is worse. The Killer Questions Option. At least with the Tumbleweed Option you’ve got the silver lining that you get to leave the stage sooner. With the Killer Questions Option you get to stay there and risk exposing your ignorance. For all its problems at least you can control the main body of your presentation — during questions everyone can hear you scream.

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    These are some of the most reliable ways of dealing with questions that I’ve researched. found or observed…

    Know your subject

    Yes, yes, everyone says this but I still see presenters who think they can research just enough about a topic to be able to deliver the presentation in question and no more. I’m sure there are valid reasons for doing this, but I can’t think of any offhand.

    Take a break and go over your presentation with a fresh mind (or better yet, give it to a friend) and see what questions spring to mind. The advantage of using your friends is that they’ll have a clearer mind. I know its obvious but it’s a great way to figure out what you might be asked.

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    Buy the local newspaper and The Daily Mail (in the UK). Between them you should get a reasonable idea of what the burning issues are for the area you’re speaking in. You’ll be amazed at how often a member of the audience will find a way of asking a question which is relevant to both what you said and what their personal or local issue is. If you’re talking about exercise, someone will ask you about the proposed local swimming pool. If you’re talking about using social media, someone will ask you about the ‘horrible new proposed mast’ for the mobile phone network (and whether it’ll cause X, Y or Z in the neighbourhood).

    Have a Question Bank

    if you ever get asked a question you’ve not been asked before, note it down, decide on an answer and record that answer for next time. By the time you’ve given a presentation half a dozen times you’ll have covered most of the bases.

    Draw yourself a mind map of the the presentation — or better yet — draw one on the whole topic area that you’re speaking about. You’ll have the big idea in the middle, secondary ideas going off as ‘tier one’ and smaller issues going off those as ‘tier two’ and so on. Most questions come from the outer fringes of the mind map, so look carefully at those and prepare your answers.

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    Most people care about their own lives, not the big issues — or at least how they intersect. For example, if you’re talking about the advantages of online training over face-to-face training, questions are less likely to be about the cognitive/recall issues of electronic learning (which is perhaps a tier one issue) as they are to be about whether your training will be accessible on their particular browser (as though they’re the only person in the world using that browser) despite the fact that you may have been very clear in your presentation that your material can be delivered on any browser.

    Wrapping up

    So there you have it – the some great ways of predicting and handling questions, based upon years as a presentation skills trainer, researcher and so on… of course (and this is based upon personal experience!) there’s always the option you don’t know the answer! :)

    I know, I know…some of these are obvious. But they’re not so obvious that people do it! Others, such as the Daily Mail and the Mind Map, are techniques we’ve developed ourselves over the years and work for us.

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    And given that we’re professional presenters and trainers, we can’t afford to screw up…so they’re pretty thoroughly tested.

    (Photo credit: Many raised fingers in class at university via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

    60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

    Sometimes it’s easier to focus on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. It’s important to take time out and remember all of the things to be thankful for that many of us take for granted.

      Here you’ll find 60 very solid things to be thankful for in your everyday life. These are great reminders for you to treasure everything you have.

      1. Good Health

      Even if you’re health isn’t great, it could be worse and you likely still have some working parts to be thankful for.

      2. Money in the Bank

      Having just a few coins makes you richer than most people on Earth.

      3. Good Friends

      Often, it’s the quality of friendships, not the quantity.

      4. Freedom of Religion

      Being able to worship whomever and however you want is something many people don’t ever experience.

      5. Your Parents

      Even if they’re dysfunctional, they gave you life.

      6. Weekends

      There’s something magical about weekends.

      7.Having a Partner

      Being in a romantic relationship can teach you so much about the world and yourself.

      8. Pets

      Pets offer one of the best examples of unconditional love.

      9. Learning from Mistakes

      If we never made mistakes, we wouldn’t learn much so it is one of those things we should be thankful for.

      10. Opportunity to Get an Education

      The opportunity to attend school is something many people don’t have.

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      11. Having a Home

      Whether you live in an apartment, a mansion, or a tent, having a place to call home is something to be thankful for.

      12. An Ability to Read

      If you’re reading this right now, you have a lot to be thankful for.

      13. Breathing Fresh Air

      Being able to step outside to breathe in fresh air is a good reminder how many little things we should be thankful for.

      14. A Bed to Sleep

      A bed is one of those things that’s easy to take for granted, until you don’t have one.

      15. Laughter

      Without laughter, the world would be a sad place.

      16. Safety and Security

      Being able to wake up without immense fear frees us up to really live life.

      17. Cars

      Without cars, it would take a lot longer to get our activities done.

      18. Sunshine

      The sun’s warmth can brighten any day.

      19. Time

      Although we often don’t think there’s enough of it, time is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

      20. Clean Water

      Many people on earth lack access to clean water.

      21. Cell Phones

      Cell phones make talking to loved ones easy.

      22. Love

      The world sure would be a different place if we lacked the ability to love.

      23. Books

      Books provide an opportunity to enter another world all from the comfort of your own home.

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      24. Kindness of Strangers

      Never take the kindness of a stranger for granted.

      25. Campfires

      The simplicity of a campfire creates lifelong memories.

      26. Pain

      Without pain, it would be difficulty to appreciate life’s joys.

      27. Art

      The world would be less beautiful if art didn’t exist.

      28. Holidays

      Any reason to celebrate is something we should be thankful for.

      29. Freedom of Speech

      Being able to express your thoughts and feelings freely should never be taken for granted.

      30. Rainbows

      The beauty of a rainbow is unmatched.

      31. Tears

      Sometimes when there are no words to say, tears express how we feel for us.

      32. Waking up Today

      Simply waking up today means you have things to be thankful for.

      33. Indoor Plumbing

      Indoor plumbing not only provides convenience, it spares us from disease.

      34. Wisdom that Comes with Age

      Thankfully, we grow smarter over time.

      35. Mountains

      Mountains provide us with beauty and recreation.

      36. Eyesight

      Being able to see allows us to view the world’s beauty.

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      37. Grocery Stores

      Grocery stores mean we don’t have to spend all of our time getting our own food.

      38. Sunsets

      Sunsets are a reminder that we should enjoy the simple things in life.

      39. Entertainment

      Entertainment gives us a way to relax and enjoy life.

      40. Your Mind

      Being able to think, remember, and solve problems sure makes life easier.

      41. Employment

      Even if you don’t like your job, being employed means someone thought you were special enough to hire.

      42. Diversity

      The world would be a boring place without diversity.

      43. Moon and Stars

      The moon and stars encourage us to dream.

      44. Electricity

      Electricity makes most of our chores efficient.

      45. Air Conditioning

      Staying cool on a hot day is something people wouldn’t have dreamed about in past centuries.

      46. Hearing

      Being able to hear your loved one’s voice is something that not everyone gets to do.

      47. Children

      Watching children laugh, grow, and dream can keep things in perspective.

      48. Ability to Learn

      The ability to learn new things means we have endless potential.

      49. People Willing to Teach

      Whether it’s your grandmother teaching you to knit or your plumber showing you how to prevent future problems, be grateful that others are willing to use their time and talents to teach you something new.

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      50. Oceans

      The sea creatures in the ocean almost seem too mystical to be real.

      51. Modern Medicine

      Without advances in modern medicine, many of us wouldn’t be alive.

      52. Music

      Music brings out new emotions.

      53. Entrepreneurs

      Some of life’s best inventions resulted from an entrepreneur who was willing to take a risk.

      54. Warm Clothing

      On a cold day, there’s nothing more important than warm clothing.

      55. Freedom to Vote

      Being able to have a say in the laws should never be taken for granted.

      56. An Internet Connection

      It’s hard to believe how easy it is to take the internet for granted, seeing how none of us had just a couple of decades ago.

      57. Challenges

      Without challenges in life, we wouldn’t be the people we are now.

      58. Hiking Trails

      Hiking trails give us the chance to enjoy mother’s nature beauty.

      59. Vaccines

      Many of us wouldn’t be alive without today’s vaccinations.

      60. Armed Forces

      Our lives would likely be very different if we didn’t have protection from the armed forces.

      Realizing all the things you should be thankful for is the first step, practicing gratitude is what you should start doing:

      6 Ways To Implement More Gratitude In Your Life

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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