Ask Dana from the Speak for Success Ezine
by Dana Bristol-Smith


Is it best to take questions from the audience during or at the end of my presentation? I notice that when I take questions during my presentation, I get sidetracked and have a hard time covering all of my information.


Dear Sidetracked,

Well, that depends… Depends, depends on what? You ask.
It depends on your answers to the following questions:

1. Is your presentation formal or informal?
2. What is the norm in your organization for this type of presentation?
3. How long is your presentation?

Let’s look at each of the questions:

1. Formal or informal.

In formal presentations, the presenter typically delivers the presentation first and saves time at the end to handle questions. If you use this format it ensures that you keep control, cover all of your content, don’t get off track and have a better chance of staying within your time constraint. At the start of your presentation let the audience know that you will save time for questions at the end of the presentation.

2. Organizational norm.

Do you work in a team-based environment? Most organizations that function in teams will use a more informal presentation approach. Presentations in these organizations may be delivered seated around the conference table. A “sit down” presentation encourages interaction from participants. You will get questions and comments during your presentation using this format. If you want to keep all the attention on you, you will need to deliver your presentation standing.

3. Length of presentation.

If your presentation is over 30 minutes, I suggest that you either take questions during your presentation, or build some other type of interactivity into your presentation. Why? You might not like the answer. Adults have limited and some say short attention spans. If we are not involved in your presentation by being able to ask questions, or asked to do some type of activity, we lose interest and disengage. Recent studies and adult learning theory tells us that adults need to be engaged and involved to understand and process information.

About the Author
Dana Bristol-Smith is the founder of Speak for Success, an organization that works with companies that want their people to communicate with confidence and credibility. You can email Dana