Henry Kissinger is famous for using the bucket model to answer questions at all of his press conferences and media interviews. Henry Kissinger used to say to himself, “What questions do you have for my answers”. He would listen and then roll out his prepared answer on that particular question.
The bucket model for answering questions is simply thinking of all the hundreds of questions that you could be asked to answer and then sorting them into common themes or buckets. It is similar to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) model, where you have a list of FAQ’s and the answers. It might be those generic questions about price, planning, quality, time frames, risks, contingency plans, return on investment etc. You sort these many questions into key themes and place each theme in its own bucket with a name. You then prepare an eloquent and succinct answer for each bucket.
When you are in your question and answer session, you then listen to the questions being asked of you for those key words or themes. Those keywords that let you know the essence of the question being asked and which bucket you will take the answer from. So whatever question that you get asked, you can then pick the answer from the appropriate buckets with your prepared answers.
Every now and then, you will get a question that you have not had before, or do not have a prepared answer for. This is OK. The important thing is to take it on notice and then get back to them. But most importantly, when you do find out the answer, make sure you add a new bucket.
The key to successfully responding to questions is preparation and the bucket model is a great way to prepare.
If you want to learn more about answering questions, Peter has an upcoming workshop on Thinking and Speaking Off the Cuff on 8 October 2018 in Perth.