Become a Pro at Audience Q&A: Answering Questions

January 23, 2020

This is the third and final part of a series on audience Q&A that may be helpful for communicators who are giving any type of presentation. 

In part two of this series, we covered the best practices for taking questions and how to interact well with your audience during a Q&A. In part three, based on a post on Ragan’s PR Daily, we’ll look at how to formulate your answers to questions and how to handle tough questions.

When answering audience questions, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be brief, keeping your answers to less than a minute and avoiding topics that stray from your main points.
  • Be honest, knowing that it’s OK not to know the answer. Ask for clarification or offer to find the answer and get back to them.
  • Be human, answering a highly charged, emotional question by providing the correct information and also accounting for the audience’s emotional concerns (i.e., they need to know you “get it”).

If you have an audience member itching for a debate, here are a few things to remember:

  • As you finish answering their question, turn toward a different part of the room and ask what other questions you can answer.
  • Redirect if the questioner is fixated on a topic and say you will answer them at the next break or after the session.
  • Turn to the audience if you’re unsure how much others are concerned by the topic the questioner raised. You could ask the audience by a show of hand how many of them want to spend more time on that particular topic.

Finally, when wrapping up your Q&A, finish with a call to action or brief recap of your key points. And remember to thank your audience for their participation.

If you have any questions about audience Q&A, reach out to University Relations at unews@umn.edu.