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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

Asked and answered

Posted: July 26, 2012 - 10:20 PM ET - by Elisabeth

Whether one-to-one, in a small group or a large presentation, maintaining control and composure during a question-and-answer session requires more than just knowledge of the topic at hand.

There are the basics:

  • Give your full attention to the person asking the question.
  • Make sure you understand the question.
  • In a group, ask individuals with questions to introduce themselves.
  • Repeat the question to ensure all audience members hear it.
  • If you don’t know the answer, suggest a resource or offer to get the information.

However, sometimes question-and-answer sessions can take an uncomfortable turn. A few simple reminders will help you make your points and keep your poise:

Hostile Questions

  • Never lose your temper or argue. Remain calm and direct your message to the larger audience, not just the person posing the question. Neutralize the exchange with “Let’s take a look at what’s really involved,” or “I think what you are really asking is …”

“No Comment”

  • Try never to use this phrase. If you can’t answer, explain why; for example, “That’s being considered/examined. I’ll be happy to share information when it becomes available …”

Laundry Lists

  • Don’t let a “laundry list” of questions distract you from emphasizing your message. You can respond by offering the questioner another chance with “You have given me a number of questions, could you ask them one at a time?”  Most people will pick the most important one and won’t remember the rest. Or, you can pick the question you think is most relevant and address that.

“Would You Say…?”

  • Beware of a questioner who asks “would you say” and then makes a statement for your agreement; use your own language and messages.

The Either/Or Trap

  • One executive was questioned by a reporter about whether his company’s action was the result of greed or incompetence; he replied “It certainly wasn’t greed.” Restate the question: “I see it another way …” or “It’s not an either/or situation.  It’s …”

“How Do You Feel?”

  • Keep in mind your role and expertise, and stick to your message. Don’t get trapped by questions such as: “I understand the position others have taken on this issue, but how do you feel?”

History Lessons

  • Last year’s answer to a question is irrelevant if it does not pertain to your message; for example: “What you said contradicts a report issued by the Small Business Administration last year; can you explain?” You can respond with “More recent studies indicate….”

What does a day without cancer look like?

Posted: July 12, 2012 - 2:00 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I’m turning my blog over to a good cause today …

I’m a fan of S↑2C (Stand Up To Cancer), and they’re having an inspiring and touching contest through July 16. Our clients, colleagues, friends and families are all affected – and we can each imagine another year or another day with someone who was taken from us too early – by cancer. I encourage you to take part in “What does a day without cancer look like?

My day would mean another conversation, more laughter and bigger dreams with my big brother Steve who was part of making the dream of Ritz Communications come true. His commitment and ideas are still remembered and he is missed every single day.

What would your day look like?