When it comes down to pitching, we’ve already discussed the importance of storytelling in your presentation, but truth be told, the deck is just one element contributing to the success of your delivery. If you thought you were done after nailing your presentation, let us remind you about the key importance of the dreaded Q&As.
The Q&As (“Questions and Answers”) is the term used for the open discussion between the speaker (the entrepreneur) and the audience (the potential investors, partners, etc.) regarding the project under scrutiny. It is usually time-limited, likewise the actual presentation, and it is the proof of concept to calibrate your interlocutor’s interest. It is also the chance to expose your deck’s weaknesses and therefore it is essential to come prepared to save the day.
To assist anyone with that purpose, we’ve gathered our top 6 tips to get you ready for those decisive Q&As:
Prepare and rehearse your responses with friends or colleagues. Practice will bring along confidence and confidence will bring along eye contact, smiles and a more credible discourse.
2. Yes, that question too.
The most sensitive or polemic topics are the juiciest. Expect far-fetched and even off-topic questions. How to get the way through? Always bring replies to your territory and take the chance to highlight your core message.
3. Use “connector” phrases (or just pause).
Phrases such as “In my own opinion” or “To put this into perspective” own us time to find the right words. In addition, if you feel in need to collect your thoughts, do not be scared to just pause. An awkward silence is still better than a rushed response.
4. Just answer the question.
Unless the demand is unclear, in which case you can politely ask for clarification, your answers should be very straightforward. Avoid beating around the bush and ensure your replies meet the interlocutor’s needs (i.e. “Was that clear?”).
5. Beware of hidden agendas. Occasionally, someone in the audience might want to trick you into going off the rails. In such cases, just act professionally as with any other question and be honest about it.
6. Sincerity wins it all.
Despite how tense or formal the situation might be, allow passion and honesty to come in. A “real” and driven answer, even if not perfect, will score higher than a mechanical one.
After all, if your project is solid enough, your discourse will follow, as well. Truly believing in one’s idea will bring the answers to all questions and for those you don’t, you will see an opportunity to challenge and improve the project.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the present list points specifically at the verbal training of the Q&As. However, there is another whole world to be explored in the non-verbal side of it. If you’d like further advice on this arena, make sure to read our previous article “How to master your communication skills (tips and tricks)“.