If you do a lot of presentations, you’re guaranteed to get some unexpected questions from the audience. How you react and respond to them is absolutely critical. At no point in time should you make your audience feel stupid or defensive. If you do, all their energy will move away from listening to you and instead will turn to fighting with you.
So the first thing you want to do with a difficult question is to start with a point of agreement. Then move to showing a new side to their question so they don’t feel you are telling them no or that they are wrong.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you are conducting a seminar on presentations, and a member of the audience says, “I’ve heard it’s really good to have as many visuals as you possibly can and have lots of music and bells and whistles because we are a society that needs constant entertainment.”
You would respond with, “That’s true, we are a society that is used to a lot of constant entertainment, and so it would seem that it just makes sense to have a lot of visuals. The reality is, however, your visuals should support what you say, but they shouldn’t be the presentation. I find too often that visuals actually detract from the presentation. So I recommend that you use as few as possible and keep them as clean as possible. Thanks for a great question.”
You’ll notice how I started with a point of agreement: “We are a society that is used to a lot of constant entertainment.” This allows the questioner to nod their head in agreement with me. Then I moved to why you don’t want to have a lot of busy visuals. At that point the person in the audience already feels good that I grasped what they were trying to say, that I saw the positive in what they were saying, and then was able to share more information that gave them clarity.
You never want to get into an argument because you will lose credibility and trust with a majority of your audience.
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