When doing your question and answer session, make a habit of repeating the question before moving on to answer it. This should be a standard rule for all trainers, speakers, presenters and people doing media and press conferences.
In the current climate of COVID-19 we are seeing a lot of live press conferences and media appearances by our politicians and experts. They are presenting updates and status reports to the people of Australia (Millions of viewers) and answering questions put to them by the media.
The purpose of their media interviews is to keep you and I and the people of Australia, updated, informed and ultimately safe – very important information indeed.
The problem is when the media asks a question, we – the people in TV land – do not hear the question. When the expert answers it, we have no idea what has been said. The message or point is therefore lost on the very people it is designed to influence.
Question? ………….. Answer. “yes I think this is a good idea and I think all Australians should probably consider this and stay at home”.
An important and powerful message indeed. But what is that we must do? Now I am seeing and hearing this day after day and their message is being lost. It may be reported in the TV news or you may read about it in the newspaper, but what a lost opportunity to communicate clearly.
The clever experts repeat, paraphrase or clarify the question before moving onto answer it, ensuring that we the people (who the message is designed for) hear what the question is and hear the response, resulting in clear messaging.
By the way , the question in the above example was “With the increase in border restrictions and the approach of school holidays, should parents consider putting any planned holidays and travel with their own state on hold”. Answer. “yes I think this is a good idea and I think all Australians should probably consider this and stay at home”.
In my workshops, I always teach the importance of repeating or paraphrasing the question back to who asked the question. And there are 4 good reasons to do this:
- Repeating the question is a way of buying yourself time to gather your thoughts. It allows that 3 to 5 seconds to work out how you are going to respond to the question.
- It is a way of checking in with who asked the question, to make sure you have got the question right. The person who asked will respond with a nod of approval or shake of the head to say “no” that’s not what I asked. You can then ask them to repeat the question.
- To ensure that the audience hears, understands and is fully across the question that has just been asked – The essence of this article
- It stops you from jumping in too fast and potentially saying your first thoughts and possibly putting your foot in your mouth. Some questions are contentious and potentially volatile, and those few seconds gained by repeating or paraphrasing the question can help you avoid saying the wrong thing. The classic foot in mouth response was when Tony Abbott said “I am going to shirtfront Vladimir Putin”
So the next time you move into your question and answer session, consider the value and the benefits of repeating the question that you have just been asked.