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Chapter 32. Delivery > Making a Graceful Exit - Pg. 268

Delivery 268 The question-and-answer period is a very important part of a speech. You can't be sure that you're getting your message across to your audience unless you get feedback from them. Follow these guidelines when answering questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. Be sure you understand a question before you attempt to answer it. If you aren't sure what the question means, ask for a clarification. Unless you're speaking to a very small group, repeat each question before answering it. If you're asked several questions by a single audience member, answer them one at a time. If your first answer is very long, ask your listener to repeat his or her other questions. Answer directly. Question-and-answer sessions are discussed further in Chapter 23, "Speaking Off-the-Cuff." I'm Not Glad You Asked Me That... Because it's very difficult to decipher the true motive underlying a question, I recommend that you answer every question at face value and treat it as a true request for additional information. Even if the question sounds negative, the questioner may just be expressing doubt or anxiety. The question may be the person's way of asking for reassurance. Deal with people politely and tactfully. Be courteous. Never under any circumstances become defensive or nasty. Audiences appreciate good manners. If you stay cool, the audience will automatically reject the person who is making trouble for you and will be on your side. Class Act Finish your speech early. Everyone will be happier. After all, how often have you heard, "That talk was great, I just wish they'd gone on for another 15 minutes"? Being polite doesn't mean that you have to be a chump, however. If the questioner is out of line, you can cut him or her off. You can always politely refuse to answer and then deflect the question back to an appropriate aspect of the discussion. Humor Resist the temptation to be witty or clever when you're answering questions. Audiences will think that you're not taking the matter seriously, and they'll identify and sympathize with the courageous soul who asked the question that you answered flippantly. Remember that you're in control. The better your speech and the more direction you give the au- dience concerning questions, the more control you retain. Start by limiting the questions you'll take. Try this line: "I'll be happy to answer any questions that deal with [the subject you have explained]." Here are two other points to remember: · Don't give a set time for questions; that way you can stay flexible. · If you really run into trouble, you can always say, "I'm sorry--we seem to have run out of time." Making a Graceful Exit