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Alberta, Canada
Family Law Lawyer, Professional Speaker & Author

Friday, 2 November 2012

Don't Hold Your Questions, Please

The essential key to captivating public speaking is the ability to attract your audience’s interest and sustain it throughout your presentation.  Monotony is the enemy of dynamic and engaging speaking, regardless of your public or professional speaking context.  One of the most successful methods of elevating your audience’s interest during your presentation is to respond to questions throughout your presentation.

While there are certain contexts in which taking questions throughout your presentation may not be appropriate, if you are delivering an informative or educational speech, you should incorporate intermittent questioning into your delivery.  A question from the audience during your speech drastically reduces the march towards monotony that may occur if you are the only speaker. 

More importantly; however, you can use the audience’s questions to gauge the reception to your presentation.  A question is a form of feedback, and you would be fortunate to have the opportunity to receive such valuable feedback during your presentation as it will allow you to modify your presentation to better accord with the needs and interests of your audience.

You may, for example, find that a particular point that you have already put forth has not been well understood by your audience and you may need to spend some additional time on that topic.  On the other hand, you may discover that you are laboring over points that are well-known to your audience.  If this is the case, your audience will tune you out the material that is mundane and may well miss your novel and exciting material.  In short if the goal of your presentation is to educate and inform, you will have missed your mark.  

Not all speakers like to take questions during their presentation, as some may find that the disruption throws them off course.  Nonetheless, you should not be reading from a script, but rather you should be focused on delivering specific points.  The “script reading” approach to public speaking is boring and unnatural.  

Training yourself to respond to your audience’s questions during your speech will enhance the energy and effectiveness of your presentation.  As a bonus side effect of your ability to respond to intermittent questions is that you will have the opportunity to truly show your expertise and command of the material.  You may need to practice your poise during questions, but I can guarantee that the rewards will be well worth your effort. 

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