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I dread the Question & Answer session
The Q-&-A needs hold few horrors; it's a great opportunity - given the right
attitude on your part. Don't rush to answer the question, take time to consider
what's behind it.
 
Hostile questions are rather rare. Never be aggressive in return: you will turn
the whole audience against you. Do your best to answer - once. Then if he
comes back at you again, try: "I've done my best for the moment. I'd like to invite
another question now, and take this up with you later."
 
Helpful questions give you a chance to re-visit an important idea, go deeper
into something you'd skimmed over, or just keep the ball in the air, like a good
hostess at a party. Always say thank-you for such questions, to encourage more.
 
Look-at-me questions are not really questions at all. The questioner is saying "I
also know something about this". Acknowledge such questions, but don't spend
too much time on them: "Thank you, yes…that certainly raises important issues/
points us in an interesting direction…"
 
Silly and irrelevant questions occur when somebody has failed to grasp your
message; blame yourself, not the questioner. Say "To answer that, let’s look
again at this key point, perhaps from a different angle…"
 
Incomprehensible questions might be in any category. Don't guess at what the
questioner wants. You have a very good chance of talking nonsense. Ask him to
re-frame the question so you (and everybody else) can understand it.
 
Click around the other advice sections for more tabloid tips, or
go to Books or contact us for a fuller treatment.
 
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