10 techniques to answer questions effectively
A question is a statement that asks for an answer or answer. Daily, you can ask questions. Some questions are open and require explanation, elaboration, etc., while other questions are closed and only require a Yes or No. In some cases, others ask questions that do not necessarily require an answer, but only for someone to listen to ( Rhetorical questions). Depending on the structure of the question, the answer that follows should address what the question is looking for. Many people fail exams not because they are boring, but because they do not understand what is being asked of them. Failure to articulate the question correctly leads to an incorrect action or response. After a presentation, you should feel good if people ask you questions. It can be a sign that people participated in the presentation and that the presentation generated interest in others. How you answer those questions will improve your audience’s view of you or increase their confidence in your product or service. As a professional, you will have to master the art of asking relevant questions, but the most important thing is how to answer the questions effectively.
1. Understand the question – Before diving into answering a question, make sure you are clear about what the question is about. There is nothing wrong with seeking clarity on what is being asked. Ask politely “Sorry, I don’t seem to understand what you are asking, would you mind rephrasing?” You will communicate better in such a case than just babbling without clarity or understanding. Remember that the essence of answering questions is that you make a positive contribution to the person seeking an answer. Do not waste time. Seek understanding first.
2. Listen carefully to the entire question. – One way you can improve your effectiveness in answering a question in a relevant and objective way is to allow the person asking the question to finish asking the question. Some people take the time to specify exactly what they are looking for. Answering a question before it is fully asked may seem disrespectful. Don’t assume you know the direction the question is going, so you want to help the person get to the point. If you have time, let the person “wander” while you take note of the key points. It also gives you time to synthesize and think about the best answer to the question. The ability to listen gives you a high success rate in answering your questions.
3. Pause and think hard – You have to determine if you are qualified to answer the question or if someone else is. Are you authorized to speak on that subject (journalists can pursue you even if you are not supposed to be the spokesperson for the company)? How deep should the answer be? The pauses and moments of silence show that you are not simply producing whatever raw material you have on your mind, but that a clearly thought out response is coming. In fact, you can prepare the person waiting for an answer by saying “Let me think … Let me see …”. That way, the person does not sit and wait thinking that they have not listened, they are simply ignoring, etc. Thinking carefully also helps you think of statements that you won’t regret later. You can evaluate the best way to respond wisely without leaving the person with fresh scars or wounds.
4. Answer the question and stop. – Having understood what the question means, your role is to answer the best you can and stop. The tendency to voluntarily offer unsolicited information does not add value to it. If you say something, empower yourself. I have come across people who after being asked a simple question like “Where are you going?” they will stop and think you have all day to listen to the name drop, the long explanations that give the whole background letting you say “Oh really, aha, Oh I see”. Get to the point and stop. When you’re always gushing out information, lies are inevitable. You can easily start to get confused or make contradictory statements without realizing it. I have seen people lose cases in court because they keep making statements that are then used against them at a later stage in the proceedings.
5. Relax and be confident – It is interesting to note that sometimes the same question can be difficult to answer depending on who and in what context the question is being asked. If the person sitting next to you asks you on a bus; “Would you mind telling me about yourself?” It can be much easier to articulate the question than when you have a panel of four or five people in an interview room where you are looking for work. The same question can bring different answers. In the first scenario you can relax and talk about social issues, while in the second scenario you almost feel that every answer should point to how hard-working you are and all the positive things in life. The important key to the flow of responses and effective response to a question is to relax and be as natural as possible in your answer. You don’t want it to look like you have a rehearsed speech somewhere that you are trying to remember. Relax and let your creativity flow. Breathe normally and be calm.
6. Master the general nature of questions. – The most common questions focus on What? (looking for details), where? (seeks to know the place or location or setting) Why? (seeks to understand the reasons behind) Who? (you are requesting for the persons involved) When? (find the date and time it happened) How? (You want to know the process or the step-by-step breakdown of an event) From whom? (identifies the owner). Other questions are like statements that ask for details. They give you the indication in statements such as illustrating, explaining, clarifying, enunciating, describing, investigating, enumerating, etc. Be careful with those words to give an answer that is relevant to what you are looking for.
7. You may not know the answers to all the questions. – It is a noble thing to pass up some questions. You are not the encyclopedia of all the questions you come across. Admitting you don’t know the answer is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you know yourself and would not like to participate in a guessing game. I have great respect for people who even in interviews will tell you: “I haven’t found that concept yet, but it sounds really exciting,” that someone who is distressed by the fact that all questions need to be answered and still wastes the next five minutes giving a lecture that is innocent of the truth. Sometimes in a group setting, admitting that you don’t know the answer to a question will bring you so much wisdom that it could be hidden in the person you’re sitting next to; the kind of wisdom you can’t even find in books.
8. Always avoid answering a question with a question. – There are people who will never try to answer in any way other than answer a question. One case where this is acceptable is in a classroom where a student asks a question and the teacher has no idea what the answer is. He / she can creatively ask “Is there anyone who can help with the question?” You are not immediately admitting to ignoring the question, but it gives the teacher time to synthesize the response of other participants. I’ve always been a victim when it comes to answering a direct question with a question. What gave rise to this issue is a question my wife asked me, which was simple and direct: “Are you going to go to the office later today?” My immediate response was not about the office but “Why?” My response would have been “Yes, I’m going, is there anything you need? Do you want to come?” instead of a resounding “Why” before giving the answer. He immediately said, “You better write an article on answering questions.
9. If you are the expert, prove it – Sometimes people ask questions because they know that you are the best positioned to know the best solution. In cases where you know what you need, please provide the full answer that is required. Support your answer with relevant examples, where necessary. Just avoid giving long explanations where a simple answer would have worked. In a science class, if students ask you to explain about the process of photosynthesis; You will not answer this in a one line statement but will bring your experience, go out and get different types of sheets to illustrate for students to understand. Similarly, in a boardroom, if you’re the COO, you should show up. You cannot allow other people to appear to be the experts in your area when you are there. Be the authority in your field.
10. Avoid judging the person asking. – It is easy to think that the person who asked a question does not have knowledge in a specific area. When you judge quickly, you risk feeling embarrassed one day. Some people ask questions about areas in which they have a Ph.D. They steer discussions in the direction of their areas of expertise. When asking yourself a question, avoid attacking the person for asking, but stand your ground and answer what is asked. Avoid statements that sound critical. When judgment signals enter an argument, this becomes a barrier to effective communication. No one will objectively listen to what you are saying. Say what you know and cite what you have heard others say.