Answering Tough Questions
When you address an audience, you will be seen as a subject matter expert. That means from time to time you will be asked a tough direct question. I’ve seen professional people stammer, get confrontational and some have shrunk away into a meager mess. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, all you have to do is show…that you can handle the pressure.
Stay cool, confident and if necessary candid. It’s okay to acknowledge the hard-nosed question and say, “Thank you for that difficult and direct question.” Follow it up with a little humor to release some tension, “That’s almost as tough as trying to answer why they call it rush hour when nothing moves.” Then deliver your clear and concise answer.
You can only provide a coherent response if you are prepared. Here’s a tip from an experienced presenter: Predict the questions that may be asked after your presentation. Most speakers skip this step and skate by and then one day – BANG! They get the tough questions and fall hard.
I also wish speakers would be honest with themselves and their audience. It’s perfectly fine to admit you don’t know the answer. Your listeners will be impressed with your integrity. They will appreciate you even more when you ask for the question to be written down and that you will follow up with an answer. And everyone will love you when you follow through and provide the answer.
After all, tough questions are important . . . and important enough to answer it right.