There's no getting around it: The moment you bound onto the platform or stage your credibility is at stake. And one way to cement your credibility is to master the art of Q & A (short for Questions and Answers)

Look at how Q & A's are done on the political battlefields. Remember the Hillary and Obama debates? These seasoned political pros knew at any time “one slip up” can hurt them in the eyes of their audience (in the studio and at home watching.)

It a nutshell: How you respond to an audience member's Q & A can undoubtedly haunt or help your career for a long time.

The beauty of Q & A’s is they help bond you with your audience. I actually love the improvisational aspect of it along with the feeling of being in the moment with my audience. Of course, you might NOT feel the same. However, delivering a powerful and content-rich Q & A is a necessary evil. And you’re going to have to deal with it as best you can if you want to be a master communicator!

You goal during Q & A is to stay centered, focus – keep your confidence and composure that you are prepared for this particular session.

Here are five quick guidelines to succeed!

1. Repeat the question: You might have heard the question… the folks in the vicinity of the “asker” might’ve heard it, but what about the rest of the room? Always repeat the question. Doing so allows you time to ponder a succinct answer

2. No matter what the question is… give the person who asked it, respect. No matter how ludicrous the question is (and if the answer is obvious) make eye contact with the audience member and answer it. Then thank the audience member for taking the time in asking it.

3. Make it brief – Give as quick a response as you can. You DON’T want to turn this into another speech. If it needs a longer answer, do it. But try to make it shorter.

4. When answering a question from the audience and if you can’t see or don’t know their name… never point with your finger. Instead, gesture with your palm down “inoffensive” manner.

5. CHEAT. Want to know the questions beforehand? Simply hand out cards to your audience (before the break) Then you can prepare your answers and respond comfortably.

If you are every caught off-guard and don't know and answer to a question… don't lie and make up one. Say to the audience member (and all the listeners) that you will exchange e-mail addresses with that person at the end of the program, do some research and get them the correct answer. This is a face saving and self-effacing technique that leaves you in good graces with your audience and will again, cement your credibility with them.

Author's Bio: 

Peter "The Reinvention Guy" Fogel is a humorist, seminar leader, and speaker coach who helps entrepreneurs, writers, and emerging speakers reach their full potential as effective communicators. He is the author of the bestselling book, "If Not Now… Then When? Stories and Strategies of People Over 40 Who Have Successfully Reinvented Themselves" and the soon to be released book, "Reboot Your Career: 27 Ways to Reinvent Yourself in the Workplace… If You Still Have a Job!" For more info on his products and to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to effective Public Speaking E-course. ($75 Value) Go to