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When people ask questions during an event, you have two choices. You can either answer them on the spot or you can choose to defer the question until later.

If you do answer the question immediately, make sure it doesn’t draw you too far off topic. If you choose to defer the question, do so respectfully. People will be ticked off if you don’t answer the question eventually. In order to insure you get every question answered, here’s what I recommend.

Put a big board at the back of the room. Give everyone sticky notes or 3×5 cards and push-pins. When they ask a question you can’t or choose not to answer at a point in time have them write down the question and put it on the board.

At the breaks, pull off the notes. Answer them before you start into your regular speaking routine again. Doing it this way will encourage people to write down their questions immediately as they come up (so they won’t be frustrated), but it will allow you to answer the questions when you feel it makes sense.

Always repeat questions when they are asked, unless there are just five or six of you sitting around a conference table and you’re not taping the presentation.

There are three main reasons why you need to do this. First, you have to make sure that everyone in the audience hears what the question was. Second, unless the audience is miked, people listening to your seminar on tape won’t hear the question. Third, you need to give your mind a few minutes to formulate a response. 

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