How to respond to questions in meetings

 In Delivery, Meetings

Imagine this. You’re at an important internal meeting. Your boss, who is leading the meeting, asks you an unexpected question or asks for your view on the matter of discussion. How would you handle that situation?

My overall suggestions for this type of interaction is to project energy and certainty (through your voice, face and body) and deliver a simple message.

Here is one sequence of how you could respond:

1. Nod, briefly, as the person ask you the question or asks for your thoughts.

(this simple nod is a powerful visual sign and signal that you are engaged and present. The nod is very important. In pressure situations, many people ‘freeze’ their head when their name is called unexpectedly in a meeting. They do this because they believe that a difficult question may be coming, and are fearful about how well they’ll respond. The head freeze is a sign of nervousness)

2. Pause, for a second or two (this gives you time to settle yourself and conveys certainty and composure).

3. Make an opening statement such as:

a.      “This is what I think”.

b.      “These are my thoughts”.

c.      “My views are these”.

d.      “Let me throw this out there”.

e.      “Here’s the deal”.

4. Pause, for a second or two.

5. Make your point. For example: “We need to spend the $500,000.”

Two caveats: a. Projecting certainty doesn’t mean you say something you don’t believe. It means you project energy and certainty through your voice, face and body even when your words are uncertain. For example, in Point Five above, one response is: “I don’t see the first option as any better than the second.” (but you would speak that message with energy and certainty). b. you can elaborate, as appropriate, on the simple message you deliver, such as giving an example.

The ‘How to apply’ for this post: In the next seven days, in any meeting environment, intentionally practice an immediate, brief nod, when you are asked a question, or asked for your point of view.


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