How to give a presentation in English - Session 10

By Viv Quarry (


Handling questions

Most presentations include time for questions and answers. Sometimes presenters ask for questions during the presentation, but more frequently there is a question time at the end of the presentation.


     Clarifying questions.

Before you answer any question, make sure you really understand it. Here are some useful tactics you can use: rephrasing the original question, asking further questions to clarify the question and asking for repetition.


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So, do we plan to change the...?                              So, what you're asking is...

If I understand the question correctly, you would like to know....


Are you looking at the January figures?                 When you say.... do you mean....?


I'm sorry, I didn't hear. Which slide was it?            Sorry, could you repeat that, please?


     Offering help to clarify information.

When responding to requests from an audience you may need to: agree to a request or offer further help.


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Q. Could we see that slide again?

A. Yes, of course / certainly. This is the slide we looked at earlier.


This is the chart we looked at earlier, but perhaps it will be clearer if I show you two more charts.

Would you like to see another slide?

It might help if I spoke a little more about....

I have another transparency which gives more details about....


     Evading difficult or hostile questions.

There are three techniques for evading difficult or hostile questions: show you understand and give an alternative, evade by not accepting responsibility and evade by delaying.


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Yes, I quite see your point. However, I know you'll appreciate that...

Yes, it's something we've thought a lot about, but the company...

That's an accurate observation. On the other hand, if we consider....

I know it's difficult to accept the decision, but the evidence is there to justify doing this.


I'm afraid that I'm not the right person to answer that.

Jo Stockton is a much better person to answer that question.


Could we leave that till later?

That is scheduled for discussion at the next conference.

I'm not sure this is the right time/place to discuss this particular question.






Here are four ways of evading replies. Put them into the categories below:


A. I'm afraid that's not my field, really. Perhaps Doctor Fielding would be able to help.

B. We're hoping to talk about that at the meeting next week.

C. Actually, I don't have these figures on me. Could I speak to you later?

D. Yes, I think it is important, but perhaps even more important is the inflation rate.


1. Introducing an alternative topic / position.

2. Not accepting responsibility.

3. Delaying.


Listen to the tape (unit 6 - C3.2)


You will here six questions. Give evading replies following the instructions below.

Make your response after each question. You will then hear  the model version.




1. Q-   Could you show us the breakdown of your advertising budget?

        Your response...........

        Actually, I don't have those figures with me, but I can get them to you by the end of the week. (Model version).


A.    You don't have the figures and promise to get them to her by the end of the week. (example).

B.     Agree that it's a long time to wait. Then give an alternative point of view - will give us longer to really study the market.

C.     You're not in a position to answer and he should ask the Personnel Department.

D.    You don't want to say anything at this stage. Say that it will be discussed at the next meeting in Chicago.

E.     You prefer to leave the point for now - you will deal with it later in the presentation.

F.     Acknowledge four per cent is not a big increase, introduce another point of view - bonus payments are still at a high level.    (Listen)


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