Getting Your Budget
How to Handle a Tough Q & A Session
By Sheri Jeavons
time and you know what that means…you need to present your budget
requests and get them approved! If you present your case well, your
department will have the funds you need to excel.
If you don’t, you’ll be left scrambling for creative ways
to complete tasks and meet goals.
people adequately prepare their budget presentation backed with facts,
charts, graphs, and detailed projections, they often forget about the
question and answer session that follows. In many cases, this is the
most important aspect of any budgetary meeting. If you don’t handle
yourself with confidence and control, your credibility will plummet,
regardless of your recommendations. Think of it as the make or break
step to getting your budget approved. If you lose control of the
question and answer session, you will inevitably lose control of the
outcome. Here are some tips to ensure a successful question and answer
Tip 1: Confidence Sells: By remaining calm, cool, and in control
when taking questions, you will project confidence in your self and
your ideas. Tell yourself, “I deserve this money for my department,
and I’m going to get it!” Clear your mind of all the other
stresses of your day and focus on this one objective. The more under
control you’re able to keep yourself, the more confident you’ll
appear, and the better you’ll handle those tough questions.
an acceptable answer is, “I do not know the answer, however, I will
contact the appropriate person and respond by the end of the day.”
Better that you admit what you don’t know, than to appear unsure or
give an incorrect answer. What
is important is that you indicate you know where to get the
information and you respond in a timely manner. The more in control
you remain, the more the room will see you as confident in your
Tip 2: Be Aware of What You Say and How You Say It: Take the time to
think before you speak. When defending your position under tough
questioning, your natural response is to be defensive.
In budget meetings,
defensive behavior is a recipe for disaster. Rather than say the first
thing that pops into your mind, take a few seconds to collect your
thoughts before you respond. Pause
and breathe deeply to give yourself time to formulate a correct and
intelligent response. When
you implement this technique, the audience will see you as thoughtful,
decisive and respectful of the importance of their question.
When responding to a tough question, begin your answer by
stating a goal of the group. This will help you verbally diffuse the
negative tone and communicate a positive response.
of your tone of voice as you answer questions. Keep your voice neutral
yet professional. Keep your demeanor helpful and informative at all
Tip 3: Be Mindful of Your Body Language: Your physical conduct sends
a message to the audience about your confidence level and expertise.
Your body language must reflect the same confidence that your words
you’re standing, stand with your hips and head facing the person
you’re speaking to. Keep both feet firmly planted on the ground
shoulder width apart. This stance will allow you to gesture naturally
and physically connect with the individuals in the audience.
you’re seated, sit upright in your chair with both feet planted
firmly on the ground. Avoid slouching in your seat or leaning with
your elbows on the table. Keep your hands on the table to allow for
natural gestures. Look the other person in the eye to communicate a
feeling of confidence.
Tip 4: Balance the Energy in the Room: You want to create an
environment where everyone feels free
to ask questions. We all have been in meetings when someone dominated
the discussion or questions. It is important to show respect to
everyone in the room.
how to balance your energy will help everyone stay engaged and keep
one person from controlling the conversation.
answer speaking directly to the questioner.
As you continue speaking, begin to slowly move your eye contact
to others in the room. This will help you to appear inclusive of
others beyond the questioner. When possible, end your answer with
someone other than the questioner.
If you find you ended your answer on the person who asked the
original question, you have just given them control and likely invited
another question. If you
end on someone else, it will keep your energy open to everyone in the
room and minimize tough follow-up questions from the original
finish your answer, turn to the group and ask if they have any more
questions. This will
encourage others to engage because your body language tells them you
are open. Remember, the
goal is to keep the energy open to everyone in the room.
Show Me the Money! Question and answer sessions can be tough, but
when it comes to money matters, the stakes are usually high and
questions are usually hard. When you keep these four tips in mind, you
can handle any budgetary question and answer session with ease, and
get the funding you deserve.
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