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Many people fear a question and answer (Q&A) session more than having to deliver the presentation itself.
Q and A are two very small letters that strike a huge amount of fear into the heart of even the most experienced public speaker.
There's something about the perceived randomness or unexpectedness of a question and answer session that means we often see it as a challenge.
To help speakers to get the most from question and answer sessions, we have compiled the ultimate guide to handling Q&A sessions, here.
If you only have time to take away one piece of advice on how to handle a question and answer session, then read on. We will reveal the one mindset trick that distinguishes the good question and answer session participant from the truly great question and answer participant.
The very best speakers and question and answer panellists switch their thinking and see a question and answer session as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
The chance to demonstrate expertise
They believe that a question and answer session is an opportunity to continue to demonstrate their expertise in an area and to build a greater connection with their audience. Many speakers taking part in question and answer sessions are hoping to increase their reputation as an expert and an engaging speaker, and so the greatest speakers panellists recognise the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise that the session represents.
A second chance to succeed
Equally, the top speakers believe that a question and answer session is a second chance to succeed. If the message or the information they have been trying to get across in their initial speech or presentation, (perhaps prior to the question and answer session), wasn't clear, a question and answer session gives the audience the chance to ask questions and fill in any gaps in the message that they may have missed. Ultimately, this provides the speaker with a ‘second chance’ to get their message across - what an opportunity!
Preparation = perfect performance
Finally, for the very best speakers, question and answer sessions aren't as random as we often think they are.
This is because great speakers know that with 20 minutes preparation, they can scribble down the best, the easiest, the worst and of course, the trickiest questions that they are likely to receive in a question and answer panel session.
They then write out template answers to these questions and practise them so that on the day they come across as a clear, concise, confident, expert speaker. With a little preparation they have removed the risk from participating in a question and answer session.
The session has gone from a risk to an opportunity.
Change your mindset
In short, the very best speakers think in terms of opportunity and consistently view question and answer sessions as an opportunity too. If you can adopt this mindset, then you will quickly become a question and answer superstar.
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