How to Handle Clod Questions that Take Your Presentation Sideways

There he is, smugly watching your presentation and eager to interrupt. His hand often shoots up, or he simply interjects, with questions that take your presentation sideways.

If the questions were germane to the presentation, it would be okay. You could answer the question and everyone in the room would appreciate hearing the answer.

But sometimes these miserable clods just want to show off their superior knowledge. Or maybe they have an axe to grind. Or they just like to be contrarian. Whatever the case, the question is only important to them.

How do you handle these clods?

Easy! Turn to the highest ranking officer in the meeting and ask him “Mister executive, how would you like to use this time? Would you like me to answer questions as they come, or would you like me to continue with my prepared presentation and hold questions until the end?”

It’s possible the executive is also bothered by the clod’s questions, but didn’t want to embarrass him by scolding him in public. Now, though, the executive has an opportunity to say something like “guys, let’s hold the questions until the end if we can.” Now the clod has been put on notice by the exec, not you.

If the executive AGREES with the clod (or, worse, the executive IS the clod) then you’ll have to just answer the questions. But maybe these aren’t clod questions at all. Maybe the executive is dealing with an issue and your answers are helping them, even if they aren’t germane to your presentation. You might even ask “You seem to have a lot of questions about this topic. Is there something you’re working on that I can help you with?”

Now you can stop feeling annoyed and attacked and instead focus on answering the questions as fully and helpfully as you can.

Photo (c) blakeemrys

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.