to Decision Makers
The Prescott Group
By Roberta Prescott
your mind go blank as you fumble through an answer to a tough
question? Have you ever been caught off-guard by a question
expect? Did you ever wake up at 3 A.M. thinking “I should have
said … “ ?
In high-level meetings, how you handle yourself when answering questions
is as important as your presentation. The highest compliment
you can receive is that you were unflappable, even during a question
blitz in which you did not know the answer to every question.
Preparation is the key to confidence, credibility and thinking quickly
and clearly on your feet, You need to demonstrate that you’ve
not only mastered important details, but have also thought about the
big picture. Following are some tips to help you shine:
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
strategic in your thinking. Know the hot buttons of key players,
and the kind of challenging questions they usually ask. Brainstorm
questions with colleagues and check your sources such as chief
of staff, executive assistants and the people involved in a decision.
Some examples of questions include:
we going to meet the deadline?
we believe you this time?
we pricing it so high?
we do this now?
you continue to grow margins?
you measure results?
our liability if …
Plan B if we don’t approve this?
the impact of … ?”
How do you
assess the risk?
the competition doing?
is on board?
the other divisions say?
this effect morale?
implement / administer this?
ME MORE QUESTIONS
I need more
you asking me to approve today
succinct answers with examples.
That would work. For example … “
your answers into a tape recorder. Check to
see whether they
are too long / too detailed / too defensive.
- Know your
outline so you can segue back to your point if you are
interrupted. (Note that with senior executives you go where
take you with their questions. In that case you may not
to return to your outline.)
- Look at
- Listen to
the whole question without interrupting.
the question for agenda, relevance, the issue / the point.
- Pause and
you engage your brain before your mouth.
you to formulate a rephrase or bridge for your answer
a planned answer sound spontaneous.
- Stay focused. Stick
with your objective and don’t
go off on tangents
- Get your
headline or key point up front, at the top of your answer.
- Get in
step with their position / point of view.
understand your priority is … “
fake it. If you are obviously unprepared,
it’s okay to say:
don’t have all the information you need at this
I’ll get back to you.”
you are able to go back to your outline, or need to
go where you are taken, use social skills phrases and a
30-second recap so that you end strongly.
for your questions and interest. I want to leave
one thought … “
fumbling or late night brilliant responses. Answering
questions is a presentation within your presentation, and
preparation will ensure your success.
The Prescott Group