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Anticipate questions

Often after a presentation, there will be a question time segment. This can often make or break a presentation. Sometimes people who aren’t confident at prepared presentations will redeem themselves by answering questions really well. On the other hand, people who have just delivered a polished, perfect presentation may have their lack of real knowledge of the topic revealed when they can’t answer probing questions.

You can’t anticipate every question your audience is going to ask, but you can give it a good try. Things to think about include:

  • Identifying the weakest points of your presentation - parts where you make questionable conclusions or present dubious evidence or research. These areas will probably be targeted in question time.

  • Identifying the controversial parts of your presentation - parts that members of the audience are likely to disagree with. Audience members will probably use question time to try and start an argument.

  • Identifying confronting or upsetting parts - once again, audience members may ask questions relating to these sections.

  • Identifying points where for some reason (shortness of time, etc.), you aren’t able to go into as much detail as you or your audience would probably like. Make sure you have the extra information on hand.

There’s nothing more impressive than someone asking what they think is a hard question, and you immediately being able to put up a previously unseen diagram that answers their question, as well as being able to address their question in detail. It shows that you’ve done your research, that you’ve got a thorough knowledge of the topic, and that you’re professional in your presentation - you know the topic and audience well enough to have predicted the questions that will be asked.