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Suddenly, a wild question appears!

It's every presenters stickiest moment; the 'any questions' when people start to ask the things you don't know how to answer.

I was training one senior manager who asked me "why don't people ever ask about my presentation?" and the answer is simple; if you've prepared properly they won't need to ask questions.

The problem then becomes one of answering ancillary questions, and they weren't ready for those.

A good presentation should cover the subject well enough to not need questions that are directly about the detail; clarifying questions may well be asked, like "could you run through those projected figures again, and tell me how you got to that?" but questions of substance won't be asked.

And then...Suddenly, a wild question appears... it hasn't been prepared for, it hasn't been worded properly, but by God it's been asked and that's all that matters.

That's all that matters...

This is where people get bogged down; the wild question doesn't care if it gets answered, it just wants to be asked. These are questions that say more about the person asking it than the presentation.

Does the person asking want to appear strong, or clever, or decisive, or ambitious? Have they got something to prove? Do they just want to be taken seriously?

We get bogged down with giving information, even when we know that people are parcels of simian emotions wrapped up in a suit and tie. The veneer of civilisation is alarmingly thin when someone who's ignored at work... and at home... and at the golf club... decides to 'show them all' and ask a question at the end of a presentation. It's not about the question it's about self-esteem, and you're the one who has to answer it.

What do you do?

"That's a really good point and I'm very glad you've raised it. I'm not sure I can deal with it in this forum, I'll come and find you when we've finished and we'll talk that through... oh and if anyone else has the same point, then come over and we'll got through it, but, sorry what's your name? OK Dave can lead us in that, if that's OK"

Is somewhere close, it shares the power with the questioner, shuts down a difficult moment and allows you a thinking space. It hands a 'leadership' role and it's 'above and beyond' what they expect from you.

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