Many sales professionals and business executives dread speaking in public. If you feel annoyed or irritated when participants ask a question…here are 14 new ways to respond.

When planning a presentation, most presenters think about one thing. What they will say. They worry and sweat about what to say, how to say it, what slides to show, and what to whiteboard. But the one thing many sales professionals resist thinking about is: what questions will the audience have?

If you shift your attention to the questions your audience has, an entirely new perspective opens up. It’s a transformative moment—when you discover that the thing you’ve been resisting is the very thing you’ve been searching for.

When you welcome questions from your audience, your audience will love you. Here are 14 reasons why audience questions are your new best friends.

1. Participants have opinions. They like to be heard. Asking a question is the easiest way to express an opinion.

2. Individuals who ask questions are engaged and interacting. This is exactly what you want to achieve when presenting.

3. Spontaneous interaction such as drawing, sketching or showing a simple solution at the whiteboard adds depth to a planned presentation.

4. Some people will never ask a question. But when one person in the audience asks, most likely other people have the same question rolling around in their brain. By inviting questions, you’re including all the shy introverts in the room.

5. Questions are intimate. A real time conversation that takes place adds an immediacy and personal quality to the presentation.

6. People feel special when they participate in lively discussion. They know that this wasn’t planned or canned.

7. People talk to each other about questions and answers. This kind of buzz builds connection and strengthens relationships.
8. People feel safe to ask seemingly ‘stupid’ questions. When you invite open discussions without judgment, people are more likely to reveal what they don’t know.

9. Participants are able to speak from their own experiences. If you don’t know the answer, ask the audience to share their stories.

10. Audiences enjoy seeing real-time interaction. A joke, a story, or an anecdote add fun and humor to serious topics.

11. People enjoy contributing and adding value. By sharing questions, answers and interaction, a spirit of collaboration and interaction is strengthened.

12. Real time interaction is not dominated by technology. Human connection requires intelligent conversation, free from the confines of any one technology.

13. Questions surface key concerns. The audience gives valuable information in the form of questions. This shapes the flow of dialogue—in any one presentation. And it shapes how future presentations will be developed.

14. New opportunities emerge. Assumptions about what the audience knows, needs or wants are clarified.

Still feel that questions are the worst bit of your big presentation? No doubt, you’re seeing the value and importance of encouraging questions from your audience.

Author's Bio: 

Milly Sonneman is a recognized expert in visual language. She is the co-director of Presentation Storyboarding, a leading presentation training firm, and author of the popular guides: Beyond Words and Rainmaker Stories available on Amazon. Milly helps business professionals give winning presentations, through Email Marketing skills trainings at Presentation Storyboarding. You can find out more about our courses or contact Milly through our website at: