Monday, February 1, 2010

Mindful Presenting, Part VI: Defense Q&A

On January 8th, the Bren Communications Center hosted a 4 hour workshop on developing and delivering compelling presentations. We used Nancy Duarte's slide:ology as our text. This post is focused on part VI of the workshop: Defense Q&A.
Presenter: Dr. Monica Bulger
In preparation for your defense and public presentations, we asked MESM alumni to share their thoughts. Click here to download a handout from the workshop. Here are some additional tips for managing the Q&A portion:
  • Try to anticipate questions and figure out answers in advance.
  • Prepare a response for if you don't know the answer.
  • Always thank or acknowledge the person who asked the question. You don't have to use the words "thank you" every time. You could say something like "oh, interesting question" or "good point."
  • It's OK to think for a moment before you respond.
  • If it's a multi-part question, write down the question as the audience member is asking it and make sure you cover all parts. (That also means you should bring a pen and paper!)
  • If an audience member makes a suggestion, note it. Take it constructively (at least in the room) and/or write it down. Don't write it off!
  • If a second group member wants to add a follow up to an answer, that's fine, but keep it brief. You do not need to give two full answers, and definitely try to limit it to no more than two "answerers" per question.

Some groups in the past have had one group member act as moderator for the Q&A. This idea may or may not work for your group; you need to consider your own group dynamics. If you do use a moderator, there's a couple ways you can handle it. You can decide ahead of time who's going to field which type of questions, that way the moderator knows who to direct each question to.

Alternatively, you could use some sort of signal. One group last year had red and green cards to signal the moderator whether they felt the could answer the question or not. In addition, as one person was answering, the other group members could also use the green card to indicate that they wanted to add a follow-up point. That way, the person answering could do a "warm hand-off" to the other group member.

--Audrey Tresham

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