Try these proven techniques during your next question and answer session.
1. Repeat the question
It is helpful to repeat a question asked by a participant especially if;
1. You are speaking to a large group.
2. Your session is being taped and you want the listeners to the tape to hear the question, and
3. The person asking the question has a low or soft voice.
2. Keep answers short-don't lecture
It is so tempting to digress. Often if asked a question that strikes right to the core of our passion we may go on and on in giving a response. Give participants the option of staying longer or contacting you for more details or discussion.
3. Respond to the entire audience
Yes, we must maintain eye contact with participants who ask us a question. However, be careful not to answer the entire question while focusing just on the person who asked the question. This is not easy. But attempt to respond at the beginning to the person who asked the question then back up a step or (if space prohibits) let your eyes meet the entire audience as you respond to the question.
4. Say, "I don't know, but I will get back to you", if you don't know the answer to a question.
I am a firm believer in never, ever knowing it all. If that happens there is no room to learn anything new. If we fake an answer we can lose the respect of our audience.
Also, if you promise to get back to a person-do it! Develop a form (Contact me if you need one) that will record the name of the person, question and contact information.
E-mail always works better for me. But not everyone is online so be sure to find out the best way to contact them.
5. Be alert to the "question hog"
At times I am a "question hog" If I am excited about a topic I may forget that there are others in the room that want to get their questions answered before the time runs out. In those instances the best thing a presenter could do is FOCUS THEIR EYES ON ANOTHER PERSON THAT HAS A QUESTION.
If they keep talking with me in a back and forth dialogue others can lose interest.
So give these tips a try during your next presentation.