How should you answer questions during an online presentation? Part II

Answering an SOS Philip M. Johnson The RNLI Henry Blogg Museum

In the previous part, we discussed preparing yourself to answer the audience’s questions most efficiently. In this part, we focus on practical tips to implement during Question-Answer sessions.

Be sure to listen to the question until the end.

Even if the viewer who asks a question goes beyond the format, do not interrupt or cut them off. Such an action is a direct conflict that will create an unfavorable impression on the audience and is highly likely to alienate the questioner. It is better, after waiting for the question to be finally asked, to once again to calmly remind the audience about the format and that the presentation’s time is limited.

Pause briefly before answering a question.

This simple rule will once again ensure that the question has been asked to the end and demonstrate that you are answering thoughtfully, and not voicing the first thing that comes to your mind. This will give more weight to your words.

Make sure you understand the question correctly.

Not all presentation visitors manage to formulate their question clearly, unambiguously and understandably. There is nothing surprising in this – after all, the viewer has very little time to think things over and, in fact, they improvise on the go. Therefore, if the question is not completely clear, it is better to clarify with the questioner what exactly they mean.

When answering a question, maintain an average pace of speech.

Answering slowly, drawing out words and making long pauses is sure to irritate those who are waiting for their turn to ask a question. If you answer with a tongue twister, you will give the impression that you are trying to get rid of the questioner as soon as possible.

Be sure to thank the asker for their question and underline its importance.

Spending a few words explaining why the question and its answer are important will not only add value to your answer, but also make the questioner feel like a co-author of the presentation. This sense of belonging will greatly increase your chances of getting a hot lead in the future.

Try to do without platitudes that say nothing, like: ‘Thanks for the interesting question.’ Constructions like these will sound much better: “Thank you. The topic you raised in your question is a focus of our special attention because…” or “Thanks for the question. You have very clearly outlined the problem, which can be solved in the following way…” Of course, it is worth considering and rehearsing such options in advance.

Maintain eye contact while answering the question.

This rule, which first appeared in the pre-digital era, has not lost its relevance in the context of virtual events. The fact that, in most cases, the speaker of an online presentation does not see the interlocutors does not change anything. And during the presentation’s main portion and while answering questions, you should behave in the same way as when communicating with an offline audience.

Speak while imagining the audience in the place of the computer screen or camera lens. During the answer, do not run your eyes and do not lower them, do not be distracted by adjusting something on the table, drinking water or the like. Such actions speak of your insecurity, the desire to hide something or even deceive. As a result of such behavior, even absolutely reliable information can be misunderstood.

Be concise, but not superficial.

Try to answer as briefly as possible, but not to the detriment of the content. A great way is to give a short answer and share a link to a section of your or another resource where attendees can get more detailed information. If a short answer is not possible, promise to give everyone a detailed answer in the near future. For example, by sending it through email.

Don't get into discussions.

Make it clear right away that once you answer one question, you move on to the next. Do not turn the question/answer format into “question/answer – clarifying question/clarifying answer, – comment on answer/comment on comment on answer” and so on and so forth. If you want to talk further in greater detail, offer to do it individually – after the presentation.

Try to make the answer interesting for all viewers.

When answering a question, address not only the questioner, but also the audience as a whole, making it clear that the answer can be useful to all those who have gathered. Even if this is not entirely true, you should emphasize that this information may be useful in the future.

Honestly admit that you don't know the answer.

Situations where the speaker cannot give an immediate answer are not at all uncommon. You need to treat this as a normal working situation, promising to study the topic and give an answer later to everyone in a form convenient for them – by email, recording a separate video, scheduling a separate online meeting or otherwise.

Invite everyone to continue communication outside the presentation.

An appropriate reminder should be made both at the beginning of the presentation and before the start of the question and answer block. This should save you from disputes, discussions and long dialogues with especially interested viewers and removes the problem of visitors whose questions you do not have time to answer. But most importantly, this is an excellent solution for warming up leads to a hot state. Obviously, someone who has something to ask and wants to talk to you in detail about the presentation’s topic is already a warm lead.

Attach a feedback form to the presentation record.

A popular way to get the most out of online events is to post a recording of the presentation on your own and partner resources. In order for this material to give you the best opportunity to increase the number of leads by answering questions, be sure to link a feedback form to it.

Practice shows that the effect of working with viewers who decide to watch a recording can be even more pronounced than from a live broadcast. According to various statistical studies, up to 90% of regular visitors to online presentations and webinars watch them at least occasionally as recordings – it’s easier to find a “window” for this in their schedule. In terms of capturing leads, leaving their questions unanswered is a real waste.

Of course, we recommend using Pitch Avatar for this purpose, a service with the most flexible and advanced feedback system.

Let's summarize:

By following the above guidelines, you will be able to retain the initiative even in the passive role of answering questions by controlling one of the key parts of the presentation. This will allow, on the one hand, to maintain and enhance the overall favorable impression of the event, and on the other hand, to increase the number of warm and hot leads by answering questions and communicating outside the live broadcast.

 

Successful presentations and high income to all!

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