When you think of delivering a presentation, you might think it’s all one-way with you as the lecturer sharing key facts and graphs, while the audience listens intently. Actually, you couldn’t be much further from the truth, especially if you want to be an engaging presenter. When you watch a powerful presenter they have a way of weaving lots of interactive techniques into their remarks, with questions being one of the most powerful tools in the tool chest.
Sounds simple but in reality it helps to sort out the different ways you can use questions to keep the audience focused. Let’s take a look at three question techniques including:
One way to start a presentation is to start with broad, general questions. Let’s say you’re going to give a talk on driving a foreign car on the autobahn. You might start with a broader question first such as – “Who here has ever driven on a busy highway?”. By asking this broad question you are establishing a common topic and you can drill down from there. Some people think of asking a series of questions much like a funnel; beginning from the top of the wide top of the funnel then working to the narrow end. With this in mind you can start with broad questions at the top of the presentation then work your way toward more specific questions. In this case, after having asked a broad question in the first moment of your talk, you might later add in more specific questions about driving cars in Europe, driving on the right side of the road, or ultimately driving on the autobahn in Germany.
Asking For Examples
To get your audience more involved in a topic it really helps to ask them for examples as they relate to your key messages. Not only do participants like to be more involved, the whole session benefits from the sound of different voices and opinions on a topic. You might say “Who here has an example to share with the larger group?”. It can be helpful to let the group know you value their expertise; in fact most professionals respond very well to opportunities to share their experience. For example, if you are talking about strategies to resolve conflict in the workplace you might ask participants for examples of strategies that have worked for them. You can even make a list on a whiteboard or flipchart to summarize the examples provided. By gathering examples from your audience you can also assess how to better customize your comments to meet their real life needs.
Connecting the Dots
Questions can be used very powerfully to connect your various sub-points and tie them back to the larger theme in your presentation. If you understand that most audiences need assistance connecting all the various ideas in a logical fashion you will see how the following question will be a crowd pleaser. When you come to the end of a section of your speech, pause then ask “Why is this important to us here at Company X?”. Look around the room. Hopefully someone in your audience will have understood the points you’ve made well enough that they can summarize them for the crowd. Alternatively, you might do a quick summary by answering your own question. People want to know how all the information you share will change their lives, transform their workplace or generally make a difference.
By using questions throughout your presentation you will help your audience understand the topic more clearly, prompt interaction, and connect messages to your overall theme. And that makes for a presentation worth listening to.