Public Speaking – Should You End Your Talk with a Q&A?

Photo of Audience Members at Business Presentation
Don’t let the audience rewrite your talk during a Q&A. Conclude your presentation with a powerful closing that supports your message.

As an executive speech coach, I often remind speakers that, “Last words linger.” Ending a presentation incorrectly can undermine your message. Wrapping up your talk with a Q&A session may seem like a natural choice, but this can be a mistake.  If you end with a Q&A, you risk a lone ill-humored audience member stating a negative opinion – rather than asking a relevant question – diluting the message you intended to leave with your audience. Even if you receive excellent questions during a Q&A, remember that you still must conclude your presentation by delivering a closing as powerful as the opening at the start of your presentation. My colleague, Sims Wyeth author of The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking, offers this good advice to help you keep your presentation on track throughout a Q&A session:

Hold on to Your Agenda
by Sims Wyeth

Sims Wyeth
Sims Wyeth

Henry Kissinger once said at a press conference, “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?”

He meant he was going to hold on to his agenda no matter where the press tried to take him.

Don’t let the audience rewrite your talk when it’s time for Q&A.  Find a way to bridge back to one of your main points no matter where the audience wants to take you.

To watch fast, fun “Tip Clips” on “How to look confident when speaking,” “How to gesture while speaking,” and “How to slow down while speaking,” visit the Sims Wyeth & Co. bookstore.

Sims Wyeth is the president of Sims Wyeth & Co., an executive development firm in Montclair, NJ devoted to the art and science of speaking persuasively.

Thank you Sims!

In the previous post, “How to Keep Your Audience From Going to Sleep,” New Zealand-based presentation trainer, Olivia Mitchell proposes that rather than conducting a Q&A session near the end of your presentation, incorporate a short Q&A in the middle of your presentation; this should help to re-focus and invigorate your audience.

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