Don’t do Q&A at the end of a presentation.
I’m not saying to not do Q&A — just don’t it at the very end of the presentation. By waiting until the very end of a presentation a few things can go wrong: 1) You leave insufficient time for discussion; 2) You end with a thud if no one asks a question; or 3) You get sucked into answering bad questions.
Here’s what I plan to do with my presentations from now on: Before my last two closing slides (which typically restate my presentation’s theme and close on a humorous note), I plan on inserting a slide titled “Thoughts/reactions?”
Instead of asking the audience if they have any questions, I’m going to say “before I go on, let me pause here a moment and ask you — what are your thoughts, comments, reactions?”
This will (hopefully) accomplish a couple of things:
1) Change the tone from “questioning the speaker” to “generating conversation”. How many times have you seen a presentation, had some thoughts you thought worth sharing, but didn’t because you didn’t have a “question”? I want to change that in my presentations.
2) I can manage the time better. No more looking at the conference organizer to see if I have time for another question. I’ll know that I have to leave enough time to end with my last 2 slides, so I can stop the discussion when I want to.
3) I get the last word to close on the tone and note that I want to close on, with people leaving remembering my last slide, and not necessarily the lousy answer I gave to the last question.