Every now and then I am approached by someone who needs to give a presentation in English and is worried about handling questions. Here is some advice on the main points to consider.
First of all, from the intercultural point of view, giving a presentation in German is different from giving one in English. In Germany, you basically go to the meeting, give your presentation, ask if there are questions and sit down again because you don’t expect any questions. Is that about right?
However, in the international setting or when dealing with native English-speakers, the situation is a bit different. In this case, while you are giving your introduction to your presentation, you tell your audience when to ask questions. The options are to
- save questions for the end
- ask as you go along
- if there are questions regarding comprehension, please ask right away; any other questions are saved for the end.
Next, when you get to the end, the audience will ask questions because they are interested. The success of a presentation is measured by how many questions the audience asked.
Remember to stay objective. This is the ideal opportunity to get to know your customer better and to nip any possible misunderstandings in the bud. It is basically a teaching situation. A good way to prepare to for the question-and-answer section is to make a list of ten possible questions and to prepare accordingly.
Even if you are not asked these exact questions, the preparation will pay off in several ways:
- You are more relaxed in answering questions in general.
- Probably, the answers and main messages will be conveyed to the audience in one way or another.
- It will be easier for you to establish a good rapport to your audience.
- You will know what your customer’s needs are which pays off in the way of success.
Good luck on handling questions in the future!