Answering Your Questions – Working with a difficult topic or audience

What do you recommend when you are requested to create and deliver a presentation which could be controversial with the audience?

What a fantastic question as many of us will have to deliver a hard presentation to a difficult audience. ( But it doesn’t have to be this scary! )

The best thing is to be prepared. Know your content and take time to practice to prevent extra nervousness. Also, use the 98 % Solution which will help you prepare for almost any challenging presentation. While it might be difficult to think of everything your audience will want to know, think about what you do know about them and questions they will ask will be obvious. If you are presenting your business or a new pitch you live it, breathe it and know it entirely, so you should have a good idea of what people want to know and are going to ask.

The 98 % solution is really learning to think like your toughest critics and hard-nosed skeptics. Thinking the way they do allows you to move from a defensive posture to the offensive position. When you come at it from their point of view, you’ll be able to know what they’re going to ask before they ask it. Knowing what they will ask allows you effectively to prepare.

To put the 98 % Solution into practice, write down the worst questions – the ones you don’t want to answer. Don’t bother to write down the questions you like people to ask, because you already know the answer to those. Write down the questions you wish no one would ask, even the ones that make you cringe.

Once you have the tough questions on paper, start drafting your answers. This is where you start building your presentation from the audiences perspective. Don’t loose track of your own structure, just ensure that you are giving a well-rounded presentation.

The other 2% is what you may not know about your audience, and they can surprise you. One way to deal with this is to talk to members of the audience in advance. You can usually ferret out the surprises by arriving early and talking face-to-face with the people in the audience before the meeting starts.

What happens when you get those difficult questions from the audience?

The best thing to do is to learn to recognize the types of tough questions a difficult audience can pose.

Here are the most common types of difficult questions.

1. False Alternative

This question gives you two or more wrong or inaccurate answers from which you are to chose. The only logical choice of action is to choose not to be baited. Go to the core of the question—-Are the rates fair? Here is an example.

Question: Is your bank charging these rates because you think you can get them, or because you don’t think people will change banks?

Answer: We have developed what we know to be fair competitive fee structure based on the value of the service. Our costs have risen 8 percent but we have only increased our fees 4 percent.

2. Irrelevant

This question is not truly related to the topics of discussion. It takes you and the audience into an area that is not relevant or necessary and takes you into an a direction you do not need or want to go.  You don’t want to appear dismissive, defensive or say, “No Comment.” You want to be helpful and but not get entangled in an irrelevant question. For example:

Question:Do you think that your bank should require men to wear ties at work or not?”

Answer: “It is an issue worth discussion in any organization. We want a professional image. I will ask the HR department to look into it , and we will let everyone know how we will proceed.”

3. Hypothetical

The hypothetical presents a situation that is unlikely to happen, too far in the future or impossible to predict. But you should relish this type of question because it tells you what your clients concerns are.

For example:

Question: “If we lose two big customers at the end of the year, would you lay-off employees?”

Answer: “We have acknowledged the mistakes we’ve made with those customers and told them we are committed to excellence. If we commit to the plan, those customers will be with us next year.”

Try these tools, they will serve you well. Remember to be prepared, stay calm and it’s all about the audience.

About releaseyourvoices

Release Your Voice with Pamela Hart: Public Speaking training based in Vancouver BC. We offer training seminars, oral presentation skills, corporate communication, private lessons or group training
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