Did you know there’s actually a recipe for a “good answer”? Just remember “ABC”! I teach this “ABC” technique to speakers and presenters, but it can be used by most of us every day! Do this when asked a question:
A – Answer the question! That sounds simple, but it means give the direct answer without hedging, sidestepping or adding any preliminary background first. The questioner is listening for the answer, not for background information, so give the answer first.
B – Background can be provided to support the answer. This may be in the form of reasons, examples, and explanations, if necessary.
C – Connect to a key idea you want to get across. A talented speaker can find ways to relate the answer back to one or more key concepts of the presentation.
Here’s an example:
Question: “Should a speaker close every professional presentation with Q&A?”
Answer: “No, he or she should not.”
Background: “Q&A can be difficult to manage and might actually end your presentation on a flat note, especially if the questions being asked aren’t of interest to the entire group. It’s actually better to weave question and answer opportunities into the presentation, ending with an offer to entertain additional questions after dismissal by standing near the front of the room for those with “bonus questions”. If it is important to open the floor for questions, do so BEFORE your closing remarks!”
Connect: “A speaker’s opening and closing are two of the most important moments in the presentation. Ensure that your presentation ends strongly by holding Q&A before you deliver your closing remarks.”
You may not always hear cheers and clapping following your answers, but you can control the mood and pace of Q&A successfully by employing the ABCs of question answering.