Since 1977, over 10,000 Spokespersons Trained.
Part 2 - Question-and-Answer Sessions

Chapter 11

The past few years have seen the beginning of a major change in the formats of public speeches. From the presidential level of politics to the afternoon luncheon club, speakers are increasingly making use of a technique that, even recently, was a “last resort.” That technique is the question-and-answer session.

Many speakers are now devoting major segments of the allotted podium time to press conference type questioning. Why? Because it gives the practiced speaker a chance to be responsive to the precise concerns and interests of the audience. It allows the speaker a chance to address issues directly. It almost guarantees, handled carefully, healthy audience involvement – and that means a more carefully attuned group of listeners.

Question-and-answer sessions have their drawbacks. They expose the speaker to a breadth of subjects for which he/she may not be prepared. They allow unfriendly – even hostile – statements to interrupt a spokesperson’s presentation. And, if you encounter a skillful questioner, you can find yourself struggling to remain the center of attention.

The risks can be greatly reduced, however, through careful planning and thorough rehearsal. And the benefits you can derive from skillful handling of a question-and-answer period are many.


The same common sense that says you should rehearse your prepared speech, dictates that you should rehearse answers to questions (many of which you can probably anticipate). After completing your audience analysis and writing your speech (for both, see Part V), it should be fairly easy to develop a list of questions you might reasonably expect to be asked following your presentation.

If you rehearse your speech before a “practice audience” (as was suggested in Chapter 1), you should also ask your “critiquing audience” to fire questions at you, especially questions that are generated by your specific message. Compiling these “practice” questions regarding your topic from all sources into a single list will give you a useful tool to use in practicing.

If you follow my suggested rehearsal style, soon you will video-(audio-) tape your answers to these same questions. You can then play back each answer one-by-one, and critique each for clarity, factual accuracy – and relevance to the question. Also, you may find that certain answers on the second hearing, may trigger further audience questions – add them to your list.1 It’s important that you generate the most complete list possible of anticipated audience questions, and that you compile an accurate base of facts or data to use in formulating answers.

The effort you spend developing questions, and the data to answer those questions, will greatly reduce the likelihood that you may be completely stumped or taken by surprise by a question from the audience. No amount of preparation can possibly guarantee that this won’t happen. But you may rest easier knowing that even the most embarrassing questions can be handled effectively.

Copyright © 1996 - 2008 K.W. Huskey Associates - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Hosted and Maintained by Computer Support Group - CSGNetwork.Com