Overwhelmed with Questions During Your Presentation?
2 Minute Read
Have you presented a new initiative and felt bombarded with questions before you finished?
Perhaps you started to feel hostile towards this "know it all" who didn't let you get your points across?
How can you respond in this situation and regain control of the presentation?
You are not alone - This happens every day to millions of people in corporates across the world, probably by the time you finish reading this article 100,000 people will have left such a meeting feeling steamrollered, humiliated and having their hard work trampled on.
Preventing it from Happening in the First Place
If you want to have a chance to prevent this from happening, read my article: "Challenged and Interrupted, by your boss, by slide 3?".
Worst case Scenario - They are Attacking you with Questions and Regardless of your Answer, They Don't Stop
If you are in a situation where this happens in this order:
- you start presenting
- you get interrupted with questions such as: "how is this going to work with them?", "how will it impact them?, "what are the use cases?", "how are you going to articulate this to them?", "why would they help with this?", "how are you going to engage them?", "how do you know this will work with this audience?", "I don't think this will work", "I think they will not be interested in this and will reject your concept."
no matter what answer you give, it's not good enough, they don't listen to it, and before you know it, they fire off yet another question
- you get into this "machine-gun"-type exchange where they fire questions one after the other and you barely can catch your breath between your answers, which don't seem to satisfy them anyway
- you get more ideas thrown at you which distract you and which move the conversation away from what you wanted to get approved/agreed in the meeting, you're told: "you should do XYZ instead" - which is something completely different than what you were talking about in the first instance.
- you feel you wasted your hard work over the past weeks, disappointed and steamrollered, sometimes even angry.
What just happened?
Biologically speaking, you became a pray where the lion was chasing you around the jungle and even if he wanted to, he could not let it go. The urge to chase (i.e. keep asking questions) was too strong. The dynamic is all wrong and if you carry on running (i.e. answering their questions) they will chase some more (i.e. keep coming at you with more questions).
The only way you can break out of it is by breaking the dynamics. Turn the tables on them.
Here's what you can do about it:
Become curious why they are asking these questions - if your mind goes blank, just say: "tell me more", then when you caught your breath, you can ask: "what made you ask this?".
"What information do you have that made you ask this question and makes you think X would happen?" "What information do you have about this audience that makes you think they won't be interested?" "Which aspects of my presentation so far made you doubt they will not be interested?"
Get them to justify their questions.
If they ask something you did not think about, say: "Oh, I hadn't thought about that, good point. What do you think we should do about that?"