What If You Are Asked a Question and You Don’t Know the Answer | Public Speaking | Presentation Skills

What happens if you are giving a speech or you have finished giving a presentation and somebody asks you a question which you cannot answer at all? I am not wrong if I say that is a lot of people’s worst nightmare.

Anytime I am working with a group of people on their public speaking skills, whether it is 5 people, 500 people, or 5000, I will ask them a question about how many of them have either experienced this or seen somebody being asked question at the end of their speech the answer to which they did not know. Sure enough, 20% of the hands will go up. So this is a real problem and a very legitimate one.

But I still ask them a follow up question which is that how many of you have seen someone give a speech and it was so incredibly boring and an interesting that you did not remember anything the person said 2 minutes after the speech ended? And guess what? All of the hands in the room went up.

So the bigger problem is that people will not remember what you say, instead they will remember some horrible moment or embarrassment or that you could not answer a question you were asked. So what I need you to focus on first and foremost is if you have delivered a speech that has an interesting message and real value in a memorable way to your audience. If you focus on that, the issue of unanswered questions will often fade away.

Anyway, it is ok to not know everything so if someone asks you a question the answer to which you do not know, do not act like you are embarrassed or that you want the floor to swallow you. There is nothing wrong with saying that you don’t know the answer and that you can find it out from someone else who does. As long as you do not look bothered or flustered, this is a fine answer.

2 thoughts on “What If You Are Asked a Question and You Don’t Know the Answer | Public Speaking | Presentation Skills

  1. hecate

    I’d expand a tad on this to emphasize the need to let the person know you will find out the answer and get back to them (make sure you have their contact info!) and then really, really do it.

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