Security Awareness Blog

Presenting Tip #9 - Repeating The Question

This is presenting tip #9 in a series of my lessons learned and mistakes made over the past years. Specifically, repeating the question, a tricked I learned as a SANS Instructor. Whenever someone in the audience asks you a question, always repeat the question before answering them. This will create a more engaging presentation, several reasons why.

  1. Repeating the question ensures that everyone hears the question. There is nothing worse then when a person in the front row asks a question and all you hear is "Mumble Mumble", then the presenter simply replies 'yes'. You are stuck sitting there wondering what just happened?
  2. Repeating the question ensures you understood it correctly.
  3. Repeating the question gives you time. You may not know the answer right away, but as you repeat the question you are thinking in the background, giving you the extra time you may need to formulate your answer.
Now, this brings up another challenge, the sharpshooter. You know, people who ask questions with absolutely no interest in the answer, their only goal is to make you look bad and/or make themselves look good, usually by trying to prove how intelligent they are and/or how unintelligent you are not. It's rare, but when it does happen it can quickly derail your presentation. Some key points on handling the sharpshooter.
  1. Don't loose it emotionally. Once you lose control of yourself, you lose control of the talk and can never gain it back. Always be calm and professional in your reply.
  2. If the discussion gets off track or the sharpshooter continues to be argumentative, get it back on track and quickly. You can simply say to the person that this is getting off topic, and you are happy to discuss during break or after the presentation. You want to be fair to everyone and be sure you cover all the content.
  3. Most of the people in the audience probably know the sharpshooter, they probably know he is a pain in the butt, and just like you they want him to shut up and let the talk continue. I remember a talk I gave in Brazil, a sharpshooter began asking a long winded, complex question aimed to derail me. The audience literally moaned as they knew what is coming.
  4. You can also walk up to the person as you are responding, almost invading their private space. This may put them back also.


Posted April 7, 2013 at 9:04 PM | Permalink | Reply


Don't loose it . . .
5. Spell check slides so you don't write "loose" when you mean "lose".

Posted April 7, 2013 at 10:40 PM | Permalink | Reply


Hah! So true, the mistakes no spell checker can find. The one that always gets me is when I spell ''then' when it should be ''than'.