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In workplace or any other place there can be lot of different types of meetings we need to attend. For ex. Meeting related to project performance, appraisal related meetings, trainings for trainers, press conference for politicians etc. Now in all of this meetings based on the knowledge and experience of person he/she can ask many different questions if we are the presenter, so what should be our approach for the same. How to ensure that we can answer to all of this questions or at least most of this questions

I want to know how should we do preparation for such meetings to make good impression by answering their questions very effectively.

EDIT : My aim in this question is not to find out all the questions in different types of meeting but want to know the thought process normally people follow for such meetings. How normally anyone do preparation for such meeting and what they do if they face some unexpected questions.

  • Why are you so worried about how many questions you can answer? It is not a test. – Masked Man Mar 14 '15 at 7:21
  • Ya but I will not be able to answer their questions than it will create bad impression isn't it. How will you fee if you are giving some training and you unable to answer queries raised by the trainee in your training – user1149555 Mar 14 '15 at 7:55
  • Are you asking how to guess what questions any attendee might ask at any type of meeting? This sounds very broad to me. – Monica Cellio Mar 16 '15 at 20:37
  • I want to know how the thoughts process of people in this situations. Whey they have to do any presentation or answers in meeting what strategy they follow for this and how they handle situation when some unexpected questions comes – user1149555 Mar 17 '15 at 2:15
  • You are essentially asking how to prepare for the unexpected - how to answer a question you don't know the answer to. – David K Mar 17 '15 at 15:43
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How to ensure that we can answer to all of this questions or at least most of this questions?

There is no way to be able to answer all questions you could receive. That requires infinite awareness, which no one has. Also, unlike a politician that must appear to be able to answer any question and, preferably, twist it for political advantage, your aim is for the organization and yourself to be successful.

That said, prepare answers likely questions in meeting. For example, if your meeting with your manager, he or she will likely be asking you about the status of your work, any impediments you have and where you have been successful. If you are meeting with a vendor, they likely want to push their product so know how it is being used, what is working well and what is not working well.

This requires knowing the people you are meeting with and what they want or need. If you are unsure and no agenda has been provided for the meeting, there is no problem with requesting some information beforehand. Otherwise, the meeting may be a waste of time for those involved.

How long should the preparation be? The preparation time and effort should be in proportion to the importance of the meeting. If you are in a daily scrum "stand up", there should be minimal if any preparation required. If you are proposing a company restructure to your CEO, I think no amount of preparation would be ideal.

Also, keep up with what is going on outside your team or group. For example, if the organization has just lost or gained a major client, a competitor has released a new product or the government has introduced new legislation affecting your industry, think about how these could impact you or your team.

That said, it is perfectly fine to say "That is a good question. can I get back to you?" Admitting you do not know everything and following up with the answer is much better than throwing out a badly thought through or incorrect answer. Such an answer may come back to haunt you if the business makes important decisions based on it.

However, answering questions is not the only way to appear knowledgeable and competent. Be an expert in the areas you are meant to be an expert in. For example, if you are a software developer working on a system, be prepared for questions like "How long would it take to add feature X" or "If we increased customers by 25%, would our system handle it?".

Similarly, have questions you want answered. If you are meeting with your boss, ask about the things he/she agreed to follow up for you last time. Remember that information can flow both ways and working with your coworkers to achieve goals is the point of having teams.

  • "Be an expert in the areas you are meant to be an expert in." I don't think I ever gave a formal presentation where I didn't know at least 3 times more than what I presented right off the top of my head. If you only know the bullet point in the Power Point, you are in trouble. – HLGEM Mar 16 '15 at 20:08
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Running a meeting is a skill much like any other. You can improve in it through practice, training or coaching. Different types of meetings require different types of skills. For example, a performance review meeting is quite different than an interview or a status meeting.

Being prepared for unexpected question is usually a question of experience, knowledge of the meeting topic and familiarity with where to get additional information. For example, for running a performance review you should be aware of the standard format used in your company, any specific details that should be covered, who the key technical or HR contacts are for additional clarification, highlights of the employee's performance, and some common areas of concern that might come up.

In general, your company should not ask you to run meetings independently that you are not yet prepared to run. They should ensure you have the appropriate knowledge or skillset for running the meeting before asking you to do so. For example, they should not ask a junior staff member to give a key status update to an important customer. Instead, they should ask the project lead or similar person. Additionally, the company could prepare for running specific meetings by providing you with training or coaching, having you be an observer in meetings first, and/or having you prepare some of the material to be presented in a meeting. For example, it is common in my company to get communication training and reviewing the details of the performance management process before giving performance reviews.

To more directly answer your question, you handle unexpected questions using the following techniques:

  1. Use your personal understanding of the meeting topic and the intended audience to prepare a clear message and answers to questions that may be common. This is really meeting, audience and organization specific so there is no catch-all technique.
  2. If appropriate, do a practice meeting or review your intended presentation material with a trusted audience to get feedback and understand what questions they had that you may not have been prepared to answer.
  3. Use good communication skills and techniques to get your message across and keep the meeting on topic. This helps ensure people understand what you are saying so they have fewer questions. It also helps prevent them from steering the meeting off-topic with inappropriate questions.
  4. Rely on your general background and experience to help you answer those questions that you can related to the meeting topic.
  5. Politely and directly refuse to answer questions that you cannot or will not answer for legal or other reasons.
  6. Admit when you do not have the answer immediately to other questions and either follow up yourself or point the person asking the question to a suitable resource to get more information.

Remember that not knowing all answers is normal. It's only a cause for concern if you find yourself unable to answer critical questions (e.g. why the project late when you are the project manager) or a majority of questions. You will get more respect by helping people get answers to their questions than giving them the wrong answer.

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