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5 Strategies For Responding To Questions (especially when you don’t know the answer)

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2017 at 9:48 AM

 

(Note:  This is an updated and improved version of an earlier articlequestion-head-with-marks )

The way you handle questions has a large impact on your credibility. You may be asked questions for which you don’t know the answer, you may misunderstand the question, or you may benefit from a small bit of time to consider the correct best answer. Here are five strategies to help increase your creditably when answering questions.

1.       Prepare

Write a list of questions you may be asked, write the answers, and practice delivering these answers before you are in front of your audience

2.       Remember you are an expert

You know your topic, your job, and your project

3.      Buy time (and think)

Use these statements sparingly to help gain focus

  • “That is a great question”
  • “I am glad you asked”
  • “Make sure I understand what you are asking”
  •  “I am not sure I understand what you are asking, can you give me a bit more background?”

4.      Use Your audience

Invite the audience to respond with their knowledge or opinions. You may try to turn the the question into a conversation with a statement such as:

“That is great question, does anyone want to try to share their thoughts?”

5.      Give an answer

If you don’t know the answer or don’t know the entire answer, you still need to respond in confident manner. Use these statements:

  • “Here is what I know about that….”
  • “Here is what I don’t know…”
  • “This is what I will do to find out…”

Keep your answers short and concise, answer only what was asked, and resist the temptation to tell ALL you know about the question. When you are finished, ask to see if you have given the info being sought.

The best way to maintain your credibility as an expert is to prepare. Be ready for all questions, even the ones you do not know how to answer.

 

© 2017 – All Rights Reserved.  iSpeakEASY provides coaching and training workshops. Call or email for information.

If you found this article helpful, consider having a live presentation on this topic for your staff and co-workers. We offer a special 45-60 minute mini-workshop that is perfect for brown bag lunches and staff meetings. Like all our sessions, it is interactive and fast paced.

 

 

 

 

A Speakers Golden Opportunity

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on August 21, 2017 at 7:33 PM

You have finished your presentation and fielded questions: now is your golden opportunity to connect with interested audience members. Audience members are (hopefully) inspired by your words and ready to take action. They want to have personal contact with you and ask a question or share a story.

Evstanding conversationen though you offered the opportunity for them to speak during the question and answer session, many people are shy or self-conscious about speaking in public. Perhaps what they have to say is personal and they do not wish to share it publicly You may be surprised at what happens when they come to you in this way. You will hear wonderful stories, questions and receive referrals and offers of help.

Sometimes they want a few minutes to gather their thoughts before they speak.

During the conclusion of your talk, tell the audience you will be available to speak. Offer an immediate and safe way they can interact with you in a smaller setting. Use an incentive to get them to approach you such as a brochure they want.

Use these final moments to your advantage. Be available to talk: avoid packing up your equipment or chatting with a colleague Mingle with the crowd or position yourself in a prominent place where you are approachable. Many people will not feel comfortable addressing you in front of others and desire personal, one-to-one contact.

One of the highest praises and audience member can give you is to share a personal story with you related to your talk. This indicates they have heard and internalized your message.

You may notice people standing near you, wanting to talk to you but feeling too shy to approach you. Watch for these people and pull them in. Be ready with a few questions to use as conversation openers.

The time immediately following your talk provides you with an opportunity to make high quality contacts with individuals in your audience. Take a few extra minutes to chat, mingle, and be a good listener to their stories. You may end up with many unexpected benefits such as good stories and new partners to help you reach your goals.

 

© 2007 by iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.

Adding Sheen to Your PowerPoint Presentations

In Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on July 5, 2017 at 1:20 PM

It is fun to watch a professional make a presentation as their presentations go off (nearly) flawlessly and they look like they are having fun doing it. Audiences will make a connection between the professionalism of your presentation techniques and your overall competency. Here are a few tips on how to add professional sheen to your presentations that use PowerPoint (or Prezi).

using-lcd

Before your presentation:

  • Arrive early to set up and test your equipment. Make sure the images look good on the screen.
  • Set up your equipment with you laptop facing you. This enables you to see your show while always facing the audience.
  • Learn how to operate the lights and window shades before your audience arrives.
  • Place a black slide in your show before your first and after your last image. This allows your show to be up and running without your audience seeing your desktop or that embarrassing “end of slide show – click to exit” slide.
  • Ask your host to operate your equipment and handle the lights.
  • Have a backup plan in case there is equipment malfunction. You should be able to deliver your talk without your images.
  • View your show in a room about the same size as where you will be presenting. What looks good and readable on your computer screen will not appear the same when projected in a room.

 

During your presentation:

  • Always begin your talk with the lights on. Introduce your topic, turn the projector on and dim the house lights. At the end of the PowerPoint portion of your presentation, turn the house lights on before turning the projector off. This eliminates the audience sitting in the dark.
  • Stand to the right of the screen and be sure not to cast a shadow.
  • If you use a laser pointer, hold it against your body to steady it, shine it on the screen for a brief period and turn it off.
  • When using a pointer, ground it gently to the screen to insure everyone sees you point to the same place.
  • In case of a problem, calmly work through it without getting flustered. The audience understands and does not need to hear an apology.

If you want to be taken seriously, spend time on the small details of how you present yourself. presenting with your competency in your work.

Contact iSpeakEASY for information on workshops and coaching to improve your credibility through improved presentation skills.

 

© 2006– iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. You may link to this article without prior permission. Written permission is required to reprint/reproduce this article in any format. Contact us for information.

Myths About Technical Talks

In Business Presentations, Communication, Public Speaking on May 18, 2017 at 12:54 PM

too much data

Myths About Technical Talks

Speaking Tip 100

Talks about technical subjects, especially when delivered to technical audiences, tend to be, well, technical.  Speakers go into great depth on the details of the subject while often missing the one thing the audience is really interested in: what it all means.

Many years ago I was working with a scientist who banded birds and tracked their flights across the Pacific from California to Japan. In his presentation, he discussed the 46 types of transmitters he decided not to use. When I asked him why he did this, he replied – “my audience wants to know about the tools I used”. I explained the audience was more interested in what he learned by tracking the birds, a detail he overlooked.

In 1992, Hewlett-Packard labs in Palo Alto, California conducted a survey to determine what technical workers want to hear from other presenters.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom that says the technical audience is eager for a “data dump”, the survey results reflect people’s preference for talks that are well organized and easy to follow. Technical speakers who try to show how much they know by making their presentation complex would be more successful if instead they focused on simplifying their message. It’s a classic example of ‘less is more’”. *

Rather than wanting more technical detail, techies wanted:

  • More concise information
  • More effective style
  • Better visual aids

When dealing with technical information, rather than give the details, tell your audience what it all means. Avoid explaining the ins and outs, the details, and technical specifications – just tell your audience what it means to them. If your audience wants to know the details, they will ask.

Good presentations focus on what their audience wants to know rather than what the speaker thinks they should say.

* Frederick, Gilbert, “The Technical Presentation”, Technical Communication May 1 1992

iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Our clients accomplish more in less time. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

The Rights of A Speaker

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2017 at 12:50 PM

As a speaker, you need to ensure you are positioned to properly provide the top-rate service your audience expects. Do not be afraid to politely turn down a request to speak if the reasons justify it.

A speaker is entitled to:

  • Adequate lead-time to prepare for your talk
  • Clearly defined expectations – What is it they want from your talk and why were you asked to speak?
  • The parameters of your talk – e.g. time allotted, size of audience
  • A clear description of audience member’s backgrounds and needs related to the topic
  • A list of other speakers preceding and following your talk
  • Access to proper equipment: stage or podium, lectern, microphone, properly functioning audio-visual equipment
  • Ability to set up the room in advance so that it works for you
  • The full amount of time they have allotted you
  • A host who sets clear ground rules so the audience treats the speaker with respect
  • A place to speak that is quiet with out distractions

 

To deliver your best you need the right tools, time and information. These will increase your self the confidence and credibility allowing you to offer excellent presentation the audience deserves.

 

 

 

© 2008 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Punography

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Humor (appropriate and well placed) is one of the four tools used by effective presenters.

Sometimes it is just good to laugh. Audiences like to laugh too.

  • I tried to catch some fog. I mist.
  • When chemists die, they barium.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
  • A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is not a seasoned veteran.
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop anytime.
  • How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
  • The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
  • I am reading a book about antigravity. I can’t put it down.
  • I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
  • They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type O.
  • A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
  • PMS jokes aren’t funny. Period.
  • Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
  • Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there is no pop quiz.
  • Energizer bunny arrested: Charged with battery.
  • I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
  • How to you make holy water? You boil the hell out of it.
  • What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
  • When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
  • What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Broken pencils are pointless.

 

Author unknown…but witty!

4 Strategies For Answering Questions (especially when you don’t know the answer)

In Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on February 16, 2017 at 10:08 AM

question-head-with-marks

The way you handle questions has a large impact on your credibility. You may be asked questions for which you don’t know the answer, you may misunderstand the question, or you may benefit from a small bit of time to consider the correct best answer. Here are four strategies to help increase your creditably when answering questions.

 

1. Prepare

Write a list of questions you may be asked, write the answers, and practice delivering these answers before you are in front of your audience

2. Remember you are an expert

You know your topic, your job, and your project

3. Buy time (and think)

Use these statements sparingly to help gain focus

  • “That is a great question”
  • “I am glad you asked”
  • “Make sure I understand what you are asking”
  • “I am not sure I understand what you are asking, can you give me a bit more background?

4. Give an answer

If you don’t know the answer or don’t know the entire answer, you still need to respond in confident manner. Use these statements:

        • “Here is what I know about that….”
        • “Here is what I don’t know…”
        • “This is what I will do to find out…”

 

Keep your answers short and concise, answer only what was asked, and resist the temptation to tell ALL you know about the question. When you are finished, ask to see if you have given the info being sought.

The best way to maintain your credibility as an expert is to prepare. Be ready for all questions, even the ones you do not know how to answer.

 

 

 

 

© 2017 – All Rights Reserved.  iSpeakEASY provides coaching and training workshops. Call or email for information.

Simply Terrible Opening Lines

In Communication, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on January 5, 2017 at 8:49 AM

The opening line of a presentation is a golden moment – it is the one time where 100% of the audience is paying full attention to the speaker. An effective speaker is able to capture the attention of the audience right from the beginning and uses the opening to gain attention and credibility.

bad-idea

I asked group of professional speakers and coaches for some of the worst opening lines they had heard and this is what they offered. Some of these are funny, some are painful, and some just make me shake my head in astonishment.

Use this list to help you think about how you will act the next time you address a group.

  • “That was a great introduction. I hope I can live up to it.”
  • “This is the first time I’ve spoken on stage and I just hope I can get through this!”
  • “I hope you’ll bear with me because I’m so nervous right now!”
  • “I really didn’t have much time to prepare…”
  • “I hope you will pardon me but I had no time to prepare my speech last week. If you do not understand what I am talking about, please send me an email, I’ll do my best then”
  • “I am so nervous and it has given me gas. I hope I don’t fart and embarrass myself.”
  • “I know my talk is going to be less than stellar”
  • “I really don’t feel very well so I am probably not going to do very well”
  • “Well I know I’m not the best public speaker, but…”
  • “Since you have the handouts, what I’m going to say here is already pretty much covered completely in there so you can read it when you are finished with this lecture”:
  • “So how much time do I have?”
  • “I did not prepare for today so I will just wing it.”
  • “It is an honor to be here. Thanks for inviting me.”
  • “This is going to be one of those PowerPoint disasters we all dread.”
  • “Is there anyone in the audience that can explain (my topic) better than I can?”
  • “Ummmm……”
  • “Well, you all know me and what I do so….”
  • “I don’t really have much to say and my topic is really boring anyway”
  • “Since you all know about this topic, why don’t we just open it up to questions”
  • “I know the previous speaker was really super, and I’m not, so please bear with me.”
  • “Bill Jones, who is really a great presenter, and who was scheduled to deliver this presentation had a scheduling conflict – so he asked me to fill in for him. I won’t be as good as Bill. Please bear with me.”
  • “I have misplaced the notes, so…”
  • “I really don’t know that much about this topic, but…”
  • “Lights please.”

A good opening builds your credibility and captures the attention of your audience. Take time to prepare your entire presentation and pay extra attention to the first words you want your audience to hear.

 © 2011 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.