Question and Answer Sessions
Most seminars and conferences include a question and answer session. Such Q&A sessions should be hosted by someone who is capable of keeping the discussion flowing, controlling any potential problems or flare ups and giving everyone a fair turn.
Sometimes the Q&A "host" will be the one answering the questions, other times the host will be there to co-ordinate questions as they are asked of others.
Those taking the questions should try to remember the following:
Believe that the person asking the question really wants to know the answer. It will make a difference to how you answer and will help you to avoid sarcasm and prevent offence.
Listen actively and answer WHAT was asked. Do not try to take advantage of the questioner to get another point across.
Using open questions, seek clarification if you are unsure about what is asked.
Repeat the question if you are in front of a large audience. This ensures that everyone has heard it, clarifies the question in your mind and gives you an extra second or two to formulate your reply.
Be as brief as possible while still providing a good answer.
If not everyone in the room is interested in the question then give a brief answer and let the questioner know you would be happy to discuss it more fully with him/her later.
Respond to negatives in a polite, positive and professional manner. Refer back to the facts that support your position that you have used in the presentation. Do not assume that the questioner heard these or realised their significance. He/she may have misheard, been distracted or out of the room at that point.
If you cannot answer you may be able to ask someone else to take the question or promise to find out and tell the questioner when you will get back to them. Be sure to make a note of this and do follow through.
Deal with non-relevant questions politely and firmly. They can be differed to another time or the questioner could be invited to send them to you via email.