Whenever you are giving a presentation it should be expected that you will receive questions from the audience. Questions are an integral part of any presentation and they should be. Not only are questions a good sign that your audience has been paying attention, but they also give the audience an opportunity to raise issues or clarify your explanations. This poses an even bigger question with presenters: when to take questions?
You have the option to eliminate questions altogether, but this is not usually your best option because it deprives your audience of the opportunity to share their concerns with what you have said or receive a further explanation. Your audience has just given their time to sit through your presentation and it might frustrate them if they aren’t given the chance to ask questions right there on the spot.
Some presenters allow questions at any time throughout their presentation, but this can lead to disaster as well. Other audience members could begin to lose interest, especially if they are continually listening to meandering answers. It can also cause you, the presenter, to lose focus along the way. Finally, taking and answering questions in the middle of a presentation makes time management even more challenging. Long questions and answers can really throw a wrench into your schedule.
Many speakers choose to end their presentation with a Q&A session, but this is also a mistake. Your conclusion is one of the most important parts of your presentation because it your last chance to make an impact on your audience. You should never give up this final opportunity to wow your audience by answering questions. Otherwise, the last thing your audience will remember about your presentation are the boring questions and answers at the end.
The best time to allow questions is right before your conclusion. You could preface your Q&A by saying something like, “Before I conclude, I will take a few questions.” You could also let your audience know early on in your presentation that you will have some time for questions before the conclusion. Plan for about a 10-minute Q&A before you make your closing remarks. This gives audience members a chance to ask questions but also leaves time for you to finish your presentation with a powerful conclusion.