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    Mastering the Q&A

    Most speakers look forward to the Q&A. It's exciting when people show interest in your topic.

    But if you don't handle this segment well, your presentation can end on a weak note. Here are some challenges and how to handle them:

    There aren't any questions. You've generously saved ten minutes for questions, but there aren't any. Instead of, "Do you have any questions?" ask, "What questions do you have about _______ or _________? This assumes that they have questions, and that now is the time to ask them.

    Still nothing?

    Without bullying or begging, say, "A common question is _______. The answer is ______." This will get the ball rolling. 

    What if you don't know the answer? There are two ways to not know the answer: the wimpy way and the confident way. Instead of cringing and weakly admitting that you don't know, be bold: "Now there's something I don't know. But I know where to get the answer. Leave your business card with me and I'll get back to you within two days." 

    A hostile question from the audience can be unnerving. But you should accept and appreciate a heckler. Here is the ideal attitude: This person is a helper disguised as a jerk.

    Once a man in my audience rudely asked, "Why should we listen to you? What are your credentials?" What a great question! Though I didn't love his tone of voice, inwardly I was excited. I got to talk about my work without appearing to brag. 

     

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