In a conference: How to handle the questions that follow your presentation?

A conference is a serious affair and your research is serious business too. You surely prepare hard and toil a lot, to not only create the research, but also present it effectively in the conference, so that none of the unique features and specialities of your research get unnoticed. But, how much do you actually prepare for the post presentation part; the questions that follow you presentation? They could be about unanswered queries of the presentation. They could come from experts in the subject matter who are here to test your knowledge and expertise on the area you have researched. You cannot take that lightly and give a disrespectful response, lest you know with all the seriousness that you presented the paper, has gone down the drain. With all this kept in mind while preparing yourself to deal with it, know very well that all the questions that will be shot at your or your team may not be benign. Some of the questions may, of course, be genuine queries and may ask you to give more information about your research, enlightening in the process on how you could further enrich and improvise your research. At the same time, there would be some questions that may not be the ones you want to hear or even answer. These could be bringing up your flaws in the research or presentation or something important that you have missed on to. The best thing to do here is to admit to your flaws and not get too defensive. Be graceful and gracious and thank the person for his contribution and at the same time, say that you would surely take the suggestions seriously, and see the best way in which they could be incorporated.

Being polite in your response to questions shot at you is required and imperative in the situation. Keep the moral ground higher and be courteous. However, you can handle them swiftly, and move on in a jiffy rather than hanging on to the question for a long time. Do not hold your attention to that one person in the audience who intends to pull you down, focus on the other audience, as quick as you can.

If you wish and have people such as peer, friends or family who can help you practice these responses with impromptu questions, it would be a great help. So, while you are preparing for your conference presentations, think beyond as well, and prepare for the Q & A session too. The more prepared you are the better you handle, always.

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