Following a great presentation, teams can fumble during the Q&A session if they don't assign a moderator, plan who answers what questions and coordinate logistics.
- So you've reached the end of your presentation. Congratulations, but wait. Before you celebrate too much, we still have the question and answer session. A great presentation can quickly go south during the Q and A. Given all of the work you've put into constructing your presentation, it would be a shame to end on a sour note with a poorly managed Q and A. In some respects, the Q and A portion is like the desert at the end of a meal. Even if dinner wasn't great, the audience is more likely to have a good overall impression of the experience, if the desert was delicious.
Here are four tips to help ensure the Q and A portion of your team presentation goes smoothly. Prior to the presentation, assign a moderator. Without having a person to run point, this part of the presentation can quickly become chaotic and awkward. For example, if multiple people in the audience raise their hands to ask a question, and teammates call on different people, it makes the team appear out of sync and not cohesive. After a question is asked, a moderator can make eye contact with team members to non-verbally signal who should answer the question.
Without a moderator, mutiple teams members may begin to answer the question, which also pulls from the team's credibility. Remember to be patient during Q and A, patient with the audience, and patient with your teammates. Even if the question that was asked has been covered in the presentation, you should still answer it as though it was a thoughtful question, even if it wasn't. For example, if you respond to a question well, as my teammate Dan indicated during the implementation plan, you've basically called out an audience member for not listening closely to the presentation.
Try to think of this as an opportunity to clarify information for your audience so that they leave with a crystal clear understanding of the information you've shared. You'll also want to be patient with your teammates. If something didn't go perfectly during the presentation, this is not the place to make that known. Even though the presentation is over, keep monitoring your body language. The audience is still reading your non-verbal behavior and paying attention to the team chemistry during the Q and A.
Try to be especially careful about defensive body language here, crossed arms or hands on hips are common examples of this. While your teammate is answering a question, make sure to continue to show positive body language, and remain engaged in the discussion. If you don't care about what your teammate is saying, why should the audience? Lastly, make sure you don't undercut each other. We've all seen this happen. One person answers a question, a teammate chimes in, and just to piggy-back off that, and then another says, and I'll just add another point.
Teammates can unintentionally undermine each other's credibility. Essentially what they're saying is, the answer that was provided is incomplete. As a general rule, if your teammate answers a question, let their response ride, unless there's something absolutely critical that needs to be added. It isn't a big deal if this happens once or twice, it becomes to look like a competition for who's the smartest person on the team if it continues beyond that. And that is a team credibility killer.
Planning for the Q and A as part of your team presentation will help make sure that, like a great desert, your presentation will end on a sweet note. Just remember to assign a moderator, maintain patience, monitor body language and avoid under-cutting each other.
- Planning for a cohesive presentation
- Developing memorable content
- Creating a logical flow
- Building in seamless transitions between presenters
- Practicing and delivering a team presentation