Never Close Your Presentation With Questions & Answers
by Bob Goodyear
I just finished participating in 3 technical conferences in 3 weeks. During that time, I sat in over 20 presentations. I saw all kinds of different presentation styles. The impact of the presentations was wide ranging as well. There was one common flaw though with almost all of them though. Just about every presenter ended with a Questions and Answers (Q&A) period. DON’T DO THAT!
With almost every presentation, when Q&A began there were some good questions. After the first one or two though, the questions became MUCH more detailed and they began to take the presenter away from his or her intended message. By the time the Q&A session ended, I couldn’t remember what the topic of the presentation even was. What may have been a good technical session had degraded into a chase down a rat hole on one very narrow, specific point. The presenter had lost most of the audience due to this.
Audiences remember the first and last things they hear. You want your audience to hear YOUR words last, not some crazy question that may not even relate to your message.
A Q&A session is expected in most presentations. Traditionally it is expected as the very last part. So the question is how to incorporate Q&A into a presentation without making it the very last part.
Here’s how I incorporate Q&A in my presentations. About 10 minutes before I plan to end, I will say something like this:
“I have one last story before I close but before that, what questions do you have?”
This allows me to give time to the audience to ask questions, but I’ve also promised them a story after Q&A so they have something to anticipate at the end. Since I’ve started using this technique, it’s amazing to see how audiences stay around to the end to hear my story. I make sure that the story I end with sums up the main points of my presentation.
Promise your audience a story, do Q&A and then tell your story and close with what you want the audience to remember. You will find that audiences will remember your message more than ever.
Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with their presentation.
Reach Bob by email or by phone at 678.447.7272