Presentation Skills Training: How To Handle Difficult Questions

What’s the toughest part of business presenting to important clients and prospects? How to handle difficult questions with poise. Curious how the pros make it look so easy and natural? Find out how to handle questions under fire with complete ease.

With more and more subject matter experts presenting directly to clients and prospects, answering questions on the spot is an increasingly important issue. In my presentation skills training, this is consistently the number 1 area of concern.

Why is handling questions such a hot topic?

Many professionals like to reduce risk and control the outcomes of their work environment. When faced with unexpected, uncomfortable or difficult questions, it’s easy to feel on the spot.

Yet, we’ve all seen public speakers and professionals who seem to handle questions with ease and poise. What do they know that we don’t?

If you’re feeling fed up with formulas, tired of feeling bewildered, and ready for a solution to the question problem, read on.

1. Anticipate The Worst
What are the questions you deeply hope no one will ever ask? What are the dark holes in your facts?
What are the difficult parts in your company history?
What are the missing links in your business story?

Anticipate these questions, and it’s easier to work on your responses-before you step in the room.

2. Collaborate and Expand
When looking into all the scary questions, don’t try to come up with all of them in isolation. Ask peers. Ask people from your company who have more experience presenting. Interview colleagues to find out what questions they received in the past.

Look to colleagues outside of your work environment. While the topics differ, difficult questions have a certain commonality. You’ll be better prepared when you get a similar one tossed your way.

3. Brainstorm Solutions
Work with your team to brainstorm answers. Again, if you’re feeling stuck, the fastest way to add fluidity is to brainstorm. Other people on your team will see answers and find solutions with a fresh perspective.

4. Explore More Options
Ask a professional presentation coach to help you add to the questions you’re compiling. They are likely to notice areas that you may be unconsciously avoiding. Your presentation coach also has personal experience in coming up with questions, and responding to difficult questions on the spot.

5. Simplify Your Answers
When you’re preparing your answers to potential questions, keep it simple. This helps in two ways. First, you will remember your answer! Second, your audience will easily follow your response.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice speaking your answers. Say each one, conversationally. Adjust the words until you are comfortable and confident.

Then, practice, practice and practice some more. Rehearse alone. Practice with a peer. Answer questions, working under rapid fire, with your presentation coach. The more you practice realistic speed and real-world content, the better you’ll feel when your big moment comes.

7. Record and Review
Record your answers in front of a video camera. Yes, it’s kicking the pressure up a notch. Not many people are thrilled with how they look on video.

But the pleasure of feeling confident far outweighs the pain of seeing yourself on camera. Record your response to questions. Then, watch your practice rounds with your presentation coach. Get candid and honest feedback from your coach.

Ask her or him to help you respond more naturally, authentically and professionally. Focus on using your unique strengths to build confidence and poise for challenging question sessions.

Interested in presenting like a pro? By following these 7 simple steps, you’ll transform your skills and handle difficult questions with complete poise.