Tom Antion is a renowned public speaking expert; I asked him if he could share a few thoughts on fielding tough questions from your audience, and I'm grateful for this guest post he has written in response:
Here are some rules to follow when you are expecting tough questions to
come up during your presentation.
1. Show that you understand their point of view. Restate your
understanding of how they feel before you offer your answer.
2. Use appropriate Self effacing humor. One time I took a large archery
target and hid it on stage before the audience arrived. Near the beginning of my speech
I said, "I know you have some tough question for me today". I then revealed the
archery target and held it in front of my chest saying, "I thought I'd make it a little
easier for you to hit me."
3. Do not make up answers. If you don't know the answer, admit it and
promise to find the answer and follow up. . . Then do it.
4. Prepare and role play. Think up every possible nasty negative
question you can think of and formulate answers in advance of your presentation. Have someone
rehearse you until you can speak the answers in your sleep.
5. If you are holding questions to the end of your speaking engagement,
have two powerful closes. Do your first close, then open it up for questions.
After answering the questions, do another powerful close.
6. Pre-emptive strike: Do research of who the argumentative people are
going to be in the audience. Do a phone interview with them before the speech and refer
to them during the speech. They will be less likely to attack you during the
Tom Antion is a professional speaker with over 2700 paid speeches to his credit. He is the founder of the largest public speaking membership site on the Internet http://www.AmazingPublicSpeaking.com and the author of the best selling professional speaker course of all time "The Wake 'em up Video Professional Speaking System" http://www.antion.com/speakervideo.htm.
Thank you Tom!