A question is a statement that solicits for a response or answer. On a daily basis, you get to ask to be asked questions. Some questions a open ended requiring explanation, elaboration and so on while other questions are closed requiring just a Yes or a No. In some instances others ask questions that do not necessarily require a response but just for someone to listen to (rhetoric questions). Depending on the structure of the question, the response that follows must address what the question is looking for. Many people fail in exams not because they are dull but because they fail to understand what is being asked of them. Failure to articulate the question correctly leads to incorrect action or response. After a presentation, you must feel good if people do ask you questions. It may be a sign that people were engaged in the presentation and that the presentation generated interest in others. How you gceanswers those questions will enhance your audience’s view of you or boost their confidence in your product or services. As a professional you will have to master the art of asking relevant questions but most importantly how to answer questions effectively.
1. Understand the question – Before you plunge into answering a question, make sure you are clear in your mind what the question is about. There is no harm in seeking clarity over what is being asked. Ask politely “I am sorry, I do not seem to understand what you are asking, would you mind rephrasing?” You will communicate better in such an instance than simply blabbing away with no clarity or understanding. Remember that the essence of answering questions is for you to make a positive contribution to the one who is seeking an answer. Do not waste time. Seek understanding first.
2. Listen carefully to the entire question – One way that can enhance your effectiveness in answering a question in a relevant and objective manner is when you allow the person asking the question time to finish asking. Some people take time to specify exactly what they are looking for. Answering a question before it is fully asked may seem disrespectful. Do not assume that you know the direction the question is going hence you want to help the person to get to the point. If you have time, let the person “ramble” while you take note of key points. It also gives you time to synthesize and think of the best answer to the question. The ability to listen gives you a high success rate in your answering of questions.
3. Pause and think carefully – You have to determine if you are qualified to answer the question or someone else is. Are you authorized to speak on that subject (journalists can haunt you even if you are not supposed to be to the company spokesperson)? How deep should the answer be? Pauses and moments of silence show that you are not simply churning out whatever raw material you have in your mind but a clearly thought through answer is coming. You can actually prepare the person expecting an answer by saying “Let me think…, Let me see..”. That way the person does not sit and wait thinking you have not heard, you are simply ignoring etc. Thinking through also helps you to come up with statements that you will not regret about later. You can assess the best way to answer with wisdom without leaving the person with scars or fresh wounds.
4. Answer the question and stop – Having understood what the question means, your role is to answer to the best of your knowledge and stop. The tendency to volunteer information that has not been asked for does not add value to you. If anything you dis-empower yourself. I have come across people who after being asked a simple question like “Where are you going?” they will stop and think you have the whole day to listen to the name dropping, lengthy explanations giving all the background leaving you to just say “Oh really, aha, Oh I see”. Get to the point and stop. When you always say mouthfuls of information, lies are inevitable. You can easily begin to confuse yourself or say conflicting statements without noticing it. I have seen people who lose cases in court because they keep saying statements which are then used against them at a later stage of the proceedings.