Canadian PM Justin TRUDEAU on how to HANDLE a QUESTION
Here is the schema…
#1 As a person is asking you a question, simultaneously starting nodding to acknowledge that you are engaged. (I call this an ‘Engagement nod) and picture the letters DBAE (which stands for Don’t Be Anywhere Else) on the questioner’s forehead. (The DBAE technique will help nail you to the present moment).
#2 Say, That’s a tough one or That’s a challenging one (Using these phrases signals to the audience that the question is not an ordinary one).
#3 Say, Give me a moment to think about that. Then ‘park’ the audience, look to the right or the left of the person into space (do not look down) and take four full seconds to reflect on the question and a possible answer.
#4 After those four seconds say, On first thought… or Top of mind… or What jumps into my head is… and then give your answer. By using these starter phrases you convey that your answer is not a definitive one.
#5 Fall back response if necessary. If no response comes to mind in your four second reflection, don’t bluff an answer. Rather, say with energy and certainty, for example ‘I don’t have a fixed view on that’ or ‘I don’t have answer in this moment – I’ll get one to you by the close of business today’.
A caveat on the schema is this.
You might not need all the steps. For example, if you don’t need the four seconds to consider the question, or a response readily spring to mind you can skip steps 3 and 4. However, ALWAYS use step one.
What reminded me of the Think on your feet schema, was the below clip, that contains a 22 second pause that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took, before responding to a question about former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Here’s LINK for the clip.
Own the Conversation
Here’s what to do some time in the next seven days.
On purpose, make a commitment – in at least one meeting where you know questions will be asked of you – to use one of the Think on your feet schema steps.
Reflect on doing this.