So, how do you handle questions from the audience after a presentation or during a presentation?
Well for starters, don't panic, do not panic. It's a good thing that someone's asking you a question. It means they understand something about what you're talking about are intrigued or want more clarification. So, if it's not a huge, huge room full of a thousand people and you're not under a time restraint, I think it's a good thing that people interrupt you during your with a question.
First of all it's not your presentation, it's your audience's presentation, and so if somebody asks you a question they may be thinking about something or be confused about something that is on the minds of everyone else. So, it's a great way to create variety in your presentation, to be more responsive. And here's the thing if you're answering that persons question now, you have 100% proof that what you're saying is interesting to that person. So, I love when people interrupt me with questions.
A couple of tips whether it's in the speech or after your presentation, you've got to really listen carefully. Don't cut them off because you've heard it before and you think you know where they're going. Really listen to the question and then answer it the best you can. If you're asked a question you don't know the answer to, don't panic. Don't look like, oh my gosh I'm so embarrassed. If someone asks you a question you don't know the answer say, you don't know and then bridge to something that is relevant that you do know, or if it's something you know you can find out say, I can find out and I can email you back the answer later today. The key is don't act flustered, don't act annoyed, don't act bothered, don't act embarrassed. You are happy that people are asking you questions. In fact if you had your choice you'd stay all day long to answer questions. That's the level of enthusiasm you want.
When asked a question, start by looking right at the person but then address other people in the room because presumably the question that that person asked is interesting and relevant to the other, too. I would start with the person who asked, look at other people, give an example, and then finish by looking at the person who asked the question. Don't say did that answer your question? You should have answered the question. Get ready to take another one.