There are two good ways you can handle this, and there are two ways you definitely should not handle this.

Let’s start with the ways not to handle it. a) Do not try to bluff or fluff your answer, especially if it is a technical question. This is not the time to try to save your ego by giving a made-up answer. You can lose your entire credibility with the group and create a large disruption. b) You also do not want to say, “I don’t know the answer to that” as that can cause the group to lose faith in you.

So here are two good ways to handle this:

1. First clarify the question to ensure you know what’s really being asked. I find that 30% to 40% of the time, what the speaker understands to be the question is not at all what is really being asked. You can guide the question by saying something like, “Are you asking how Six Sigma works for an organization, or are you asking how you can bring this back to your department?” Let’s imagine they tell you they want to know how they can bring it back to their department. If you don’t know the answer to that, simply say, “That is a great question that will require a more detailed answer. If you would like to see me afterwards, I can chat with you more about how to get that information for yourself.” When they come up later, you can let them where to get that answer, or you can say you will e-mail the answer to them.

2. You can simply table the question, telling them briefly what would be required to answer the question and that time doesn’t allow for you to give the in-depth answer that is needed.

3. You can say that, due to the limited amount of time you have today, you’ll have to get back to them with the answer to their question.

Now YOU’RE ready to TAKE ACTION.