Handling the Q&A

It may be the most critical part of your appearance.  You’ve worked tirelessly on your presentation and now it’s time for the Q&A.  This portion is critical because it’s your chance to interact and connect on an even deeper level with your audience.  And its important to make sure that technically you can hear your audience and your audience can hear you.  The audio is so important during your presentation, but for many of us professional speakers it’s an after thought.


Plan in advance how you will handle questions from the audience.  If you are in a large venue with many people in the audience, then it’s essential to have microphones for the Q&A. Our experience is that if you plant only one microphone in the center aisle, people will be hesitant to come up to it, or they are simply too far away to get there.


Instead, station volunteers as “mike runners” with portable microphones in different sections of the room. When you call on someone, ask him to wait for the runner. Some people are so anxious that they start speaking immediately. If that happens, ask them to repeat the question into the microphone.  Then ask, “Did everyone hear the question?” If necessary, repeat the question and paraphrase it if the questioner rambled.   It’s critical to include the entire audience during this phase of presentation. 


When preparing for your next presentation, you should practice with a microphone. Ask your sound guy or  A/V department to set you up.   You can also consider investing in your own wireless mic, if you don’t have access to professional help. Bring it with you to your next presentation, just in case the event planner didn’t get the email and doesn’t have a mike for you. It would be a pity to waste a great speech on an audience that can’t hear it.


I just a gave a presentation in Jonesboro, AR.  I was the guest speaker for the multicultural department at Arkansas State University.  The Q&A was critical for the students to follow up on some of the salient points I made and wanted more information.  It also allowed me to address each student personally, and give him or her the answers they were looking on a particular subject matter.  Treat this portion of your presentation just as you would for the body of your talk, its an excellent opportunity to establish a connecting point.  And once you make that connection you will have a made a fan and an ally.  And remember that’s the ultimate goal to connect with your audience and have them yearning for more from you.  So don’t miss out on a great opportunity.