If you are somebody who regularly presents for work, there may be times when no matter how well prepared you are, you receive a question that you do not want to, or do not know how to answer. In more challenging situations, you may not even understand the question or the person speaking.
I am sure we have all been there! However, this can be even more difficult if English is your second or third language, and it can leave you feeling uncomfortable, exposed & not in control.
So today I would like to share with you my key English phrases for sounding more confident when experiencing these situations with killer questions, so you can navigate your way through the situation & reply in a way which is professional & natural.
The first thing to remember is that you are an expert in your topic & if you are prepared, then you should feel confident & believe in yourself & your skills. Plus, for the most part, the audience are interested in what you have got to say & are on your side, so they are not there to be hostile or find the problems with your presentation, or criticize your English.
Be aware of your body language when listening to the question. Even if your brain is starting to race & you doubt you know the answer, stay present in the moment. Keep focused on the person, what they are saying, maintain eye contact & nod occasionally to show you are listening carefully. Also make sure you have heard the whole question before jumping in to start answering it. Finally, before you start to reply, take a pause & breathe.
So, what to say in these tricky Q&A situations?
Remember you do not need to give a long answer, you can just keep it simple. Here are my top English phrases for difficult questions during presentations to help you.
When you want to avoid answering the question in the moment:
- Thank you for the question. We probably do not have time to go into the detail of that today, but I am happy to discuss it with you another time. Let’s follow up after the presentation.
- Mmm, that’s a really thought-provoking question, what’s your view on this? (the questioner may be keen to share their view & then you have something to respond to!)
- That’s a question many of my clients/ team members/ people ask me & it requires a detailed answer. Can I pick up with you afterwards to talk further?
When you are not sure you have all the information to hand:
- I understand, that’s an interesting point, let me make a note & come back to you with my thoughts after today’s meeting.
- I am not quite sure I have all the information to hand here with me now, but can I email you in the next few days with an answer?
- My initial thoughts on that topic are …
When you do not understand the question or the other person:
- Would you mind just repeating the question?
- So what you are saying is……..
- I didn’t quite catch that, but I think you were asking about….?
Hope that helps & happy to answer any questions that you may have about what to say or not say in these tricky situations to keep calm & sound professional in English. Just contact me here.