Prepare for a Q&A with the 98% Rule

You’ve wrapped up your presentation, and now your audience sits with hands raised, ready to ask questions. 

The Q&A is more than an afterthought to a successful speech: It represents a key opportunity to solidify your connection with the audience and get your key message points across. As the subject matter expert, you’ll likely be able to anticipate most questions and respond confidently. And by putting some thought into questions that might be asked following a presentation, you’ll be better prepared for and more self-assured in your responses.

But what about the questions you can’t anticipate? That’s where the “98% Rule” comes in. Put yourself in the mindset of your toughest critics, and follow these steps:

  1. Write down the worst questions—the ones you don’t want to answer and you hope no one asks.
  2. Think about how you’d answer these questions, and write down points to cover in each of your answers.
  3. Determine what you can—and can’t—say in your responses, including explanations for why you might not be able to answer a specific question if it comes up.

If all goes well, you’ll anticipate 98% of the questions you’ll field. But the method isn’t foolproof: The remaining 2% of the audience members are bound to ask a question you didn’t think of during your prep. A good way to avoid surprise questions is by talking with potential audience members in advance of your presentation, which will allow you some time to consider your answers.

Effortless presentations are rarely developed without effort. They require practice, hard work and a knowledgeable presence. The Dardis Leadership Presentation & Image program can help you deliver a presentation that’s 100% on target.