How to answer questions?

After your presentation, you will usually be asked some challenging questions. This is the moment when stress really hits. How do you handle these questions?

Know your topic. Some questions can be predicted very easily. Make sure you understand the most difficult concepts and theories and that you know how to explain them. Think about which questions will probably be asked and prepare an answer to those questions beforehand.

For some presentations, it is important to present enough data or give enough explanations. But sometimes it is difficult to include all that information into your presentation.

Because members of the jury or the audience sometimes have specific questions about data for example, it is interesting to add extra slides after the last slide of your presentation. On these slides, you can add bigger tables, more references, additional overviews of models and theories, anything you could be asked after your presentation. This way, you have this information with you as well but it doesn’t affect your presentation. If a question is asked about this, you just need to show one of your extra slides and you make a prepared and professional impression. 

We often call it a defence but you should never defend yourself. A person who is defensive always has something to hide. If members of the jury ask offensive questions or give destructive feedback, don’t become defensive. Acknowledge the remark from the critic and give some nuance from your point of view but never respond with an attack. 

If you really don’t know what to answer, you can always say: ‘That is a really good point and I have not taken this into account enough. This will have to be considered in future research’.    

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