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Presentations – 7 commonly asked questions answered

I am often asked for tips on the different aspects of a presentation. Here are my answers to the seven commonly asked questions on presentations.

1. When should I allow for questions in a presentation?

This is dependent upon the presentation and the audience. Sometimes you may want your audience members to ask questions as you progress through your presentation. This can be a way to engage your group.

At other times you may wish to leave all questions to the end – especially if you are limited in the time to present.

Whichever format you choose, ensure that you let your audience members know before you begin your presentation. They will appreciate the guidelines that you set.

2. How can I keep a presentation on track?

If you are delivering a presentation at a team meeting which involves discussions at certain points then it is important to keep the group focused on the agenda for that meeting.

Your audience members may go off on tangents. It is up to you as the person facilitating that session to keep everyone focused on the topic at hand. This can be achieved by:

  • Asking closed questions to bring the topic back to the point where you want everyone to be at in the presentation.
  • Acknowledging the fact that the discussion is heading in a different direction and due to time constraints these points may need to be discussed at another time. Then quickly review where you were at in your presentation and continue on.

3. What do I do to avoid members of the audience jumping ahead to aspects of my presentation before I reach it?

Members of your audience will probably not realise that they are jumping ahead in your presentation. Acknowledge the question and inform them that you will cover it during the presentation.

When you arrive at that point, check with the person that you have answered the question to their satisfaction.

4. How can I stop the nerves before speaking?

Nerves are natural and we all feel them before speaking to a group. It is about using the nervous energy to energise us and not paralyse us.

There are a number of ways to deal with nerves. One in particular is to relax your body through breathing. When we are nervous we tend to take shallow breaths. We want oxygen to be travelling to the brain so that we can think clearly while speaking and to be able to answer any questions in a logical manner.

Breathing also relaxes the muscles and helps to calm the voice – you want to have a natural and conversational tone when speaking as this will help you to connect with your audience.

5. How can I overcome having a dry throat when I speak?

A dry throat is usually a symptom of nerves. Have a glass of room-temperature water or a warm drink nearby. This helps to lubricate the throat.

Avoid iced water as this can constrict the throat and your pitch may rise.

6. Do you have any tips on how to construct an answer to a question either during or at the end of a presentation?

In my article, The Dreaded Q & A – How to think on your feet I have outlined how to confidently answer questions while thinking on your feet.

This takes practise so take any opportunity that may arise – whether it is in a business or social situation.

After a while, you will find it easier to do without having to spend too much time thinking about it.

7. Should I use PowerPoint in my presentation?

It is up to you as to whether or not to use PowerPoint slides in your presentation.

An important point to remember is that PowerPoint slides are only a visual aid to you as the speaker. Their purpose is to add impact to what you, the speaker, is saying.

The question to ask yourself is: Will the use of PowerPoint slides add value to my presentation?

If the answer is 'yes' then ensure that you follow some golden rules when compiling your slides.

Do you have any questions regarding your upcoming presentation that you would like answered? Leave them below.

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Maria Pantalone

Maria Pantalone is the author of Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders. Maria works with individuals and teams to make communication their strength so that their message is heard. She provides tailored programs in presentation skills, business writing and effective communication as a leader and team member. Maria’s programs help her clients to excel in their role and be recognised as leaders in their field.
30 Business Communication Tips

Looking for tips to help you with your speaking, writing and interpersonal communication?

Then download my free ebook, 30 Business Communication Tips.

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