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I was so glad to hear that Mike and Mark were against the "please hold your questions until the end" disclaimer at the start of a presentation.

I recently gave a series of presentation to the employees in my department and after I gave them a quick introduction I added the disclaimer that I welcomed questions. It sounded like this, "Lastly, I welcome your questions and ask that you [b]not[/b] hold them until the end. I'd be glad to answer your questions as they come up because I feel doing so will benefit the entire audience. If your question is answered by the next slide in the presentation I might say so and address it in just a moment."

I now wonder if the last part was needed.

Thoughts?

aspiringceo's picture

I tried this out this afternoon, and it worked well. What I did notice was that at the end of the meeting a lot of people came up to me to say how much they enjoyed the presentation and how interesting it was. This was a presentation about a research project that I am involved in and it was not the first time I delivered it, but without doubt allowing the questions during the presentation as opposed to at the end of it made it more interactive and interesting.

Edmund

HMac's picture

Hi Dave: I think the answer to your question, strictly speaking, is "no." That last part is NOT needed - because if it actually happens, you can use that phrase in the moment, with something like {Smile / Eye Contact / Raise Eyebrows / Use Questioner's Name / Repeat Question if group size is roughly 30} "I'm glad to answer that question. If I can ask you to wait just several minutes (or slides), I'm confident that I'll be covering some information that's pertinent to giving a great answer. Thanks."

How's that?

ashdenver's picture

Having conducted hundreds of training seminars, I will echo what HMac said.

"That's a very good question. We're not quite there yet but in a few minutes, we will address that very topic."

"I'm glad you asked but before I answer that, I'd like to finish this material so that you have the full background before moving into this next aspect."

Things like that seem to work well. Complimenting the asker on the appropriateness of their question seems to take the 'sting' out of "Not right now" and keeps the whole group looking forward to what is still to come.

fcch_mngtools's picture

When doing a presentation, (imho) one must remember one thing.

When YOU are the presenter, YOU are in charge. The tone, flow and message of the presentation is up to you.

When I prepare presentations, I have different strategies, depending on the context. Imagine yourself as the conductor of an orchestra. A good conductor can reign in runaway situations, moderate the flow of the music, even change the tempo of the orchestration depending on the feel of the room.

I'll prepare for every communication, be it a 7 minute stand up with the GM, a 20 minute budget proposal or a 6 hour public information session.
(I'm quite sure that M&M have a multitude of presentation preparation strategies and tactics up their collective sleeves :twisted: )

As with a conductor, eye contact, subtle gestures and body language will be able to control most any person in front of you.

When I see a participant motion that they want to interject, eye contact, a subtle gesture and the person will usually be quite content to wait a few moments. I adress the person, introduce them (if the room is large), say their name and ask them to procede.

(here goes)
Further, imho, to be an effective presenter and to be able to control a room, look to the experience as a highly egotistical act. The audience has assembled here to find out what [b]you[/b] have to present.

Someone once said, Being an orchestral conductor is one of life's pleasures. "Most people listen to music and dance to it. I get to Dance and the Music follows me!"

cowie165's picture

Whilst we're discussing questions (please bear with me here):

Guys do most adults in your audience raise their hand, elementary school style, or just blurt out their question whenever the speaker pauses?

fcch_mngtools's picture

Mark,

99% of the people in my presentations make a slight gesture. ... a half raised hand, sometimes just eye contact and they raise their hand 2-3 inches.

I run many meetings and presentations. Some of them are "Town Hall" type meetings (public consultation of forest management plans). During the introductions, I do a brief Rules of the Road.

Specifically, I will often IGNORE blurted out questions, ... saying, "If you have a question, please raise your hand, ... Now Jim here had a question" (motioning to the other person who has properly asked for permission to interject.)

Takes only 1 or 2 "put your foot down" moves like this and the group realizes how to act.

p.s. ... My meeting always start on time and finish usually 3 minutes early.

aspiringceo's picture

I would say that here in the UK nearly everybody would raise their hand slightly or make another gesture ( a bit like taking part in an auction) to attract the speakers attention and will always wait to be invited to comment.

Edmund

chuckbo's picture

I can't remember anyone ever just blurting out a question if I'm presenting to a group. Usually, it's a raised hand or similar gesture, but lots of times, it's just a quizzical look on someone's face (but you have to be really watching your audience to catch that).

chuck

fcch_mngtools's picture

Actually, ... I do get lots of folks "blurting out questions".

As I mentionned, some of my presentations are on natural (public) ressource use issues. Public consultation on harvesting permit applications, stuff like that.

Emotions can get heated up a tad sometimes. If the audience knows that I respect them, they soon realize that they'll get their chance to speak, ask questions etc.

Mark's picture

Sorry for my absence folks.

Yes, allow questions. I would not tell them 'that's coming up', I'd say, "boy, great point/you're just ahead of me, we're getting to that in just a moment."

I disagree with Chris a little. Great presentations are all about the audience. This is important as you learn...because weaker presenters who think it's about them make up rationales for why they do it their way, which is usually wrong. The more one thinks about the audience, the more one comes up with tactics that aid in communicating with them.

Mark

fcch_mngtools's picture

Oops, :oops: ... Sorry Mark, ... I think I didn't express myself very well.

I know that the presentation is all about the audience. After all, ... without the audience, ... there would be no presentation .

What I was trying to express was the need to not be shy about controlling the situation. A runaway presentation is a sure fire way to never get invited again to do one (be it a lecture, a presentation or a speech).

It is all about the audience (I repeat). My presentations are all tuned to the target audience. The content, timing, tempo ... everything. On occassions I have to get out the same message to three different groups (general public, fellow foresters and board of directors).

Sorry if I came across as being too [i]egotistical [/i]:(

p.s. ... Thanks again to you two for a fine podcast and a wonderful forum.

edwin_park's picture

Mark, Mike,
I just had a presentation. Reviewed the 4 podcast about presentation right before. Felt a little Matrix.

11 slides. Most of them had 1 or 2 lines in 24-48 point fonts or 1 picture. A lot of questions. It went over 2 hours. I got a lot of good feedback about how "refreshing" it was.

Thanks.

mauzenne's picture

Always pleasant hearing when we've made a difference ... thanks for sharing!

regards,
Mike