As a presentation coach who prepares people for high-impact presentations, including Shark Tank appearances, I know how critical Q&A really is. That’s where you make or break the deal.
Preparing for a pitch is a walk in the park compared to preparing for the unpredictable nature of Q&A. That requires you to be alert and top of your game.
Here are five tips to maintain confidence and win over investors during Q&A.
Tip 1: Engage with the Questioner and the Audience
When someone poses a question during the Q&A, take a step toward them and make eye contact. Focusing on the questioner signals attentiveness and respect.
After processing the question, shift your gaze back to the entire audience, including them in your response, just as you did during your presentation.
Tip 2: Embrace the Pause
Even if you’ve encountered a question numerous times before, pause briefly before responding. This pause demonstrates confidence, respect for the questioner, and a commitment to delivering a thoughtful response.
Avoid starting your answer with "That’s a good question," as it can be perceived as insecurity. Instead, express gratitude for the question and then proceed with your answer.
Tip 3: Choose Your Words Wisely
Certain words can carry more weight than others in your responses. Here are three words to avoid during Q&A sessions:
- I think...: While not terrible, stronger alternatives like "I believe" or "I’m convinced" convey more confidence. Or better: omit it all together to turn your opinion into a fact.
- I guess...: This word implies uncertainty; it’s better to admit when you don’t know something.
- Honestly...: Starting with this word can make it seem like you aren’t truthful otherwise. Authentic communication negates the need to advertise your honesty.
Tip 4: Prepare for Various Types of Questions
Anticipating different question types can help manage your emotional state during Q&A sessions:
— Questions You Hear All the Time: While repetitive, remember that it’s the first time your audience hears your answer.
— Questions Already Answered in Your Presentation: Reiterate your key points; some audience members may have missed them.
— Questions That Need Long Answers: Keep your responses concise, and offer further discussion after the presentation.
— Questions for Which You Don’t Have an Answer: Be honest about your limitations and commit to finding the answer.
— Questions You Hope You Don’t Have to Answer in Public: Prepare strategies to shift the discussion back to your prepared content.
Tip 5: What to do when no-one has any questions
If no one in the audience asks questions initially, don’t panic. Initiate the Q&A session yourself by posing a common question and inviting others to join in. Use this time to reinforce your main points and your call to action.
Mastering Q&A sessions is a crucial skill for any presenter. By following these tips and practicing your responses, you can navigate Q&A sessions with ease and confidence, ensuring that your audience leaves with a deeper understanding of your message.
Remember, it’s not just about what you say during your presentation but also how you handle the questions that follow.