How Important is the Question & Answer Session?

By Satish Nair

When giving presentations to a large audience, question-and-answer sessions are great opportunities to know about the audience, who involved your program and closely watch your communication skills, oration, observe your body language etc. It is a good opportunity to show off your sense of humor & intelligence if you are engaged with an audience participating a public speaking engagement or simply a business presentation session.

Yo can choice any topic to start a Q&A session, which you feel interesting to yourself and others, you can also ask uncomplicated questions to draw in the participation of the audience. To be a honest presenter you must take every opportunity to do something different from others and the norms. To prepare for Q & A sessions you should spend some time, anticipating questions and creating various answers to use before you give the real answer. Be careful not to sound like a smart when delivering the humorous part of the answer.

When a witty response is offered to an audience question it appears to be spontaneous, but you can easily be ready with well-rehearsed responses. If you want to take more control of the humor used in a Q & A session, you can easily do that too. Here are two solid methods that I use all the time. The first is to plant interests in the audience. The second is a variation on an old standby Q & A method.

When you invoke interest in the audience, it usually mean that you can select one or more of the audience members to help you. You contact these people either by phone when you are doing your pre-program research or during the time you are schmoozing with audience members before the program. You simply ask them for some help during the talk. If they agree, tell them to raise their hand during the Q & A portion of the talk. They will be asking the fake question you have given them.

The question itself may be funny or your preplanned answer could be the zinger. Either way should get a laugh. Here's the hard part. You must supply the question. The more customized it is to the group, the better it will be. It might be funny if you got the president of the company to ask a really dumb question like, 'How much did we pay you to be here?'

It might be funny if you got one of the top salespeople to ask when they get to take the company jet to their next sales call. Who knows what might be funny to your group? I sure don't.

In Mahabharata, the great Indian Epic, written some millioniums ago, there is a question answer session, between the elder pandava Yudishtira with a Yaksha (actually it was Dharma, who pretended to be a Yaksha to test the intelligence of Yudishtira), who captured other Pandavas and insisted Yudishtira to answer his questions and get freed his brothers, it goes like:

Dharma: What is heavier than earth, higher than heavens, faster than the wind and more numerous than sorrows?

Yudhishthira: One's mother is heavier than the earth; one's father is higher than the mountains. The mind is faster than wind and our worries are more numerous than sorrows.

Dharma: Who is the friend of a traveler? Who is the friend of one who is ill and one who is dying?

Yudhishthira: The friend of a traveler is his companion. The physician is the friend of one who is sick and a dying man's friend is charity.

Dharma: What is that which, when renounced, makes one lovable? What is that which is renounced makes happy and wealthy?

Yudhishthira: Pride, if renounced makes one lovable; by renouncing desire one becomes wealthy; and to renounce avarice is to obtain happiness.

Dharma: What enemy is invincible? What constitutes an incurable disease? What sort of man is noble and what sort is ignoble?

Yudhishthira: Anger is the invincible enemy. Covetousness constitutes a disease that is incurable. He is noble who desires the well-being of all creatures, and he is ignoble who is without mercy.

Dharma: Who is truly happy? What is the greatest wonder? What is the path? And what is the news?

Yudhishthira: He who has no debts is truly happy. Day after day countless people die. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be a greater wonder? Argument leads to no certain conclusion, the Srutis are different from one another; there is not even one Rishi whose opinion can be accepted by all; the truth about Dharma and duty is hid in caves: therefore, that alone is the path along which the great have trod. This world full of ignorance is like a pan. The sun is fire, the days and nights are fuel. The months and the seasons constitute the wooden ladle. Time is the cook that is cooking all creatures in that pan (with such aids); this is the news.

Summary: These questions and answers are little bit relevant to universality, nobody other than an intellectual can give such answers to such questions and this shows the true wisdom in answering to those typical questions. This also have relevance in the common era of management, where everybody has to prepare presentations to show to their clients and in various meeting with their seniors/colleagues. After every presentation, the presenter must be ready to face flooding questions on various issues of relevance of different types as well as from various corners and if one is not able to answer the questions correctly and appropriately, it will affect his credibility and credentials and can put roadblocks in his growth.

During the presentation, allowing the audience to ask questions after your presentation is an excellent way to reinforce your message and continue to sell your ideas. In addition, because listeners can ask for clarification, audience members are less likely to leave your presentation or speech with misconceptions about the concepts you delivered. Because of these benefits, the question and answer period is actually another presentation and vital to most speaking situations. It is like a presentation after the presentation.

Satish Nair, Jodhpur, Rajasthan (India) is working with an Indian MNC as secretary, has 20 years of experience. His hobbies are reading, watching movies, and writing inspirational articles.

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