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How to overcome the awkward Q & A silence.

"ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?" All too often what follows your speech or presentation is an awkward silence. After presenting a strong program and wrapping up with a powerful close, you may assume that no questions means that everything presented was clearly understood. Or - gulp! - that there was no interest in the material.

Often the audience just isn't ready to ask questions; they're still trying to understand the information you presented. Before their listeners have ever had a chance to formulate questions, speakers often have quickly scanned the room for inquiring hands, seen none, thanked everyone for coming and made their exit.

By following the strategies below, you can begin to change these dynamics by allowing your audience more time to compose questions, and to expand their grasp on the material presented.

So what happens when the audience warms up and begins bombarding you with questions? Some speakers find this the most exciting part of the presentation. Others dread it, because they fear being asked something they can't or don't want to answer. However, preparation is key to helping you answer questions confidently. Begin by writing down as many possible questions you can think of, even the most difficult ones, and then practice answering them before the event.

The Q&A session may seem like an afterthought, or something to be avoided. But it is in fact a useful tool that allows you to clarify information the audience may not have understood and to repeat important points.

By practicing the strategies above, you will be able to replace the awkward silence with a show of eager hands and a barrage of questions, meanwhile honing your leader-ship skills, knowledge, credibility and professionalism.

By Kate_Rizor

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