Getting Past The Tough Questions

In my last post on presenting, I meant to mention the Question Conundrum and added as an update but then deicded it was worthy of a post of its own.


Q: What is the Question Conundrum?

A: Most people hate the thought of presenting as they'll be asked a question they don't know the answer to and be made to look stupid in front of a crowd.


This is simple to get over - if you think anyone in the audience can trip you up on the topic you're about to speak about, you should be questioning why you're up there presenting. If you genuinely do get asked a question you can't answer, just tell people you don't know but will find out. People value honesty from their presenters. One sniff of a presenter who isn't quite on top of their topic and people will move in for the kill. This can be mitigated by having built a rapport with the audience but once your ship is going down people will see you starting to bail water.

As always, Garr Reynolds has some great supporting material.

Comments (3)

  1. says:

    Can someone please take Steve Clayton�s geek credentials away please? The Blue Monster is bad enough but this latest post takes the biscuit;

  2. says:

    I hate to see a presenter start getting ripped apart by the audience. However, something that I find highly entertaining is when the presenter rips apart hecklers.

    I was once at an MSDN event where Linux/Java geeks were in the audience with the intent of heckling the presenter. It can get interesting if these types want to engage in a stumulating discussion, but these guys were out for blood. Well, it turns out that the presenter had a strong background in both Linux and Java. It was quickly apparent that he knew more about both topics than the hecklers. They slunk away during one of the breaks, never to be seen again.

    One thing that I notice that makes a good presentation is not only knowing more than your audience in the area that the presentation covers, but at least being conversant in most of the related topics that might come up. Full expertise is not necessary, but a cursory knowledge, and being able to direct the questions to the right resource is good. It’s kind of annoying when the audience asks a question and the presenter has no idea what is even being asked. It’s usually a good idea to fake it and admit that you don’t know "enough to give a confident answer" and redirect to a different source. It sounds much better than "duhhhh".

Skip to main content