PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

When an audience member asks a question and you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say you don’t know the answer.  Even if you are a subject matter expert, you can’t be expected to have every specific piece of information that might be requested.

Of course, you can’t just say you don’t know.  You need to include a promise that you will get back to the person with the requested information.  I don’t know the answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you.

In recent years I have noticed speakers putting a twist on this “get back to you” promise.  They ask the audience member to e-mail them with the question.  Would you do me a favor and e-mail that question to me.  I don’t want to forget it.

This e-mail request is transparently self-serving.  Instead of taking responsibility for the question, the speaker is pushing the responsibility back on to the audience member.  Clearly the hope is that the audience member will not follow through with an e-mail and the speaker can forget about it.

Do the right thing and maintain responsibility for the questions you get.  It’s okay to ask an audience member to write the question on the back of his or her business card (re: contact information), but you should follow through.

You’ve heard of customer service.  This is audience service.

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