Two Smart Alternatives

Looks like last month’s piece on handling audience questions generated lots of interest, especially about the Two Smart Alternatives I said would be in this month’s ‘Communicate Confidently!’.  So … here you go.

As discussed last time, choosing which audience question strategy – anytime or only at the end – is not easy because neither one works best for all presenters, all messages and all audiences. But here are two smart alternatives for this dilemma, … two hybrid strategies that involve the best features of both approaches.

  1. Questions before the summary

Because the audience remembers most what they hear last, here’s how to deal with the disadvantages of holding questions until the end while still maintaining audience control and time management:

  • Indicate in your intro that there will be plenty of time for questions at the end of your presentation.
  • After you wrap up your last Sub-Point, pause and indicate that it’s time for questions.
  • Answer them as needed, indicating when there’s time for one or two more. You timed your Summary, so you know how much time to allow and still end on time.
  • Pause briefly, then segue into your Summary with a brief transitional phrase.

In so doing, you still end with your well planned and practiced summary, not the answer to the last question someone asked.

  1. Questions After Each Sub-Point

You can also accomplish similar results by inviting questions after each of your three or four Sub-Points. Simply indicate in your Intro that you’ll invite questions throughout the presentation. This strategy is especially effective with a team-delivered message. Each presenter invites questions at the end of his or her part and then transitions to the next speaker.

This approach is more audience-centric because they don’t have to wait until the end of the entire presentation to ask questions about Sub-Point A or B. It also requires effective time management and audience control. And you still end the entire presentation with your powerful Summary.


While neither of these ‘Best-in-Class’ hybrid strategies will eliminate audience members from interrupting, asking a question whenever they want to or behaving badly, both are effective tools well worth adding to your Workplace Presenter Tool Kit.

Next month, we’ll move from ‘when to take questions’ to ‘how to handle them’ – what to say and not say to maximize your hard-won image of confidence, credibility and competence. Till then … keep presenting with More Power and Success!