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How to... give a research presentation

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Answering questions

The following points are worth bearing in mind:

  • If you have planned your presentation well, you should have forestalled obvious questions, e.g. how many people will be involved in this project, what will the reporting structure be etc. (We have earlier suggested that a good way of planning your presentation is to write down a list of possible questions.)

  • Try and make the question and answer session a two way process: have some questions of your own; try and stimulate discussion.

  • Always repeat questions – the questionner may have asked the question quietly so that some of the audience may not have heard.

  • Don't feel that you have to know all the answers. Either say that you will come back to the person, or if appropriate ask if anyone else in the hall knows the answer.

  • Prepare an "additional point" so that if there are no questions, you can use the time effectively.

  • If you get asked a question in the middle of your presentation, answer it if it will clarify a point, but don't be afraid to ask if you can come back to the point after the main presentation.

  • Stay calm, even in the face of difficult questions. Never be afraid to pause in order to collect your thoughts.

  • Try and think up possible questions as you prepare your presentation, and write down a list, including answers.