Have Fun Doing Q & A
We're moving into having fun doing Q&A, so you're actually all right this time 'cause you're actually gonna lead this for us.
Alright, cool, cool.
Alright so, a big part, this is a great segue--
Interactively teaching, and that's obviously what we've been doing in all of our classes, but a big part of presentations and speaking is having to interact with the audience and one of the places that gets the most challenging for some people especially people who are more comfortable with either their own material or memorizing material of someone else and just delivering it, is the Q&A. And the Q&A is going to come up at some point no matter what your format is, because people are going to most likely in a business setting be watching you speak not for entertainment, which sometimes can occur if you are an entertaining speaker and I hope that you will be, if you do all these exercises 'cause you definitely will be if you practice them. But they're really th...
ere to learn something. You have some kind of information that is expertise, whether it's within your field or whether it's confidential within the company or it's something that industry-wide you're trying to share, they need something from you, they are not there to laugh or be entertained, they are there to get something. And so therefore, if they don't get enough of it, they are going to ask questions. Or if you gave them something they didn't want, they're gonna ask you why they did that. And so, questions are gonna come whether you want them to or not, and it does give people a lot of anxiety around the speeches that they give. So, we're just gonna do a simple exercise that kind of takes the stakes way low, so we're not thinking about something we might actually talk about at work, but we are gonna simulate what a Q&A kind of feels like just in this format that we call press conference. So, I would like someone that has not gotten up in a couple minutes, to jump up here and be our first volunteer to go through the press conference. So you're gonna talk about something you already know about first and foremost, and then we'll go from there. So, who would like to just--
Continuing to be playful, it's playing with these--
Building the scale through a play, and keeping the stakes low.
All right, Jonathan, jump on up, give him a round of applause. (audience clapping) You didn't get a chance to fight Jared, I love that you're back up, are you now gonna ask for a rematch? All right, so what you're gonna do Jonathan, as a speaker, the bullet points are up there, if you can't see them I'll read them for yah. You're gonna be honest, even if you don't know the answer. So, these are some things that we think about when we work with people who do Q&A's. Be honest even if you don't know the answer. Some people are petrified to say they don't know, and therefore they lie, or they waffle and there is nothing worse than doing one of those things. One you know if you lie, then that could really bite you later, this is actually a part of your job, so don't say something that isn't true clearly, and I know that's common sense, but when people get nervous anything can happen. So please, if you don't know the answer, just go, "You know what, I don't know and I'll find out for you." And you can follow up with whatever that short version of an answer is for you. It's pretty common sense, but I've seen a lot of people just go, they wanna please everyone, and they just try to answer. Stay poised and polite, if someone is going... You have to almost, in another sporting analogy, self scout yourself, what questions do you not want? And we'll get to that in a second. But be polite, even if they ask you the thing you didn't want them to ask, you have to be prepared for it. Most likely there's someone in the crowd that that's the whole reason they are there, because they wanna see you squirm, or they wanna know something, and they might be from the press, and they might wanna know, you know, they wanna get that juicy soundbite, but you have to be ready for it. Keep it short and sweet, every time you answer you want it to be as short and sweet as possible, and really try to impact that particular person and then know when to say no, you don't have to answer all these questions. You have been really gracious with your time you've shared your expertise already, you may have limited time and a great way to say that is to say, "I don't have enough time to answer that "in the way that I feel like would be "the most beneficial to you, "so I'll politely decline, and we can talk off line." You can find your own shorthand versions to answer all of these different questions in a polite and poised way, but you don't always have to say yes, I know that that's a big part of what we've been doing in all of our classes, but there is a time and even improv thinking where you don't say yes. So, that's your goal, you're just gonna answer questions about something in particular in just a second, like being honest, staying poised and polite, keeping it short and sweet and knowing that you don't have to answer everything and say yes. For you, you're gonna act as the press, and all you're gonna do, this is how we're gonna do this, he is going to say after he's given a very short talk in just a second, and I'll open it up to questions. You're going to raise your hand, you're gonna state to your name and for bonus points you can state what organization work you're with. If you're from a magazine or a news organization, and then you're gonna ask a question. The first time around we're gonna do this, we're gonna do it with the topic you know pretty well. I don't want it to be your job, I just want it to be something maybe you're passionate about. So, now let's decide what's gonna be. So, what's something you love?
Stand Up Paddlings.
Stand Up Paddling.
Stand Up Paddling.
All right, so we're gonna put a minute on the clock, no, actually we don't need the minute, I just want you to do, just two or three sentences, two or three sentences, 'cause this isn't about the content, it's about what comes afterward. So, just lead us into the end of your Stand Up Paddling talk, with two or three sentences and then just say, and now I'll take some questions from the audience, and then politely raise your hands and ask him questions about that subject, okay. If you're inquisitive and wanna know something about it ask him those questions, but don't go off of the subject let him kind of stay in his domain if you will for now. So, we'll do that for a couple of minutes, and then we'll switch it up. All right, go ahead.
So, at the end of the paddle in the morning, it's like I've been walking on water, and the seals follow me actually, and they actually talk to me, and they come around and it's just this amazing experience to go into nature every morning. (audience clapping)
All right, So, Jonathan thank you, we'll now take some questions from the audience.
Hi, Mr Littmann, Heidi Bianca with Wonderwoman International, can you please tell me what type of clothing you best wear when you do this paddling?
Well, I suggest very little, I think you have to be in the moment and it's okay if you fall in the water. When you're starting out, you stay close to the shore but whatever, it can be workout clothes, it can be a bathing suit, but don't go the old way of a big wetsuit and sort of anticipate failure.
Any other questions?
Mr. Littmann, this is Jared, from the Daily Herald, and I was curious if you ever fear the great whites, when you're out in the ocean. Do they ever bother you or?
It's a great question, most people go into bays or lakes or rivers, and that's where I suggest you start. The ocean is a big deal, and you don't wanna to start there.
Mr. Littmann, I'm from Outdoor Magazine, my name is Janice, and I'm interested in knowing how one would learn to stand up paddle, and why. Why would somebody do that?
It's the fastest growing sport in the world, at every age group. It's a lot easier than it sounds. What I'd suggest is there's a great place here called One-on-one surf sports nearby and have fantastic lessons but the boards are more like boats almost, and so it's a lot easier to begin than you might think. All right, very good. Give him a round of applause on that. (audience clapping)
So, that was the safe and comfortable and easy version, you did a great job, at no point, I was timing you off of the clock up there, did you answer any longer than 30 seconds, so you're pretty succinct. I think he was informative, he was polite and poised. He answered your questions pretty directly, and it was all good. But now we're gonna change it up.
And we're going to ask you about something that maybe you don't know much about or wouldn't want to talk about, and doesn't have to obviously be anything personal or uncomfortable it's just that we can't know everything right. So, because I don't want you to pick something and fib, and say you don't know about it, and it is something in the truth that you do know about, let's offer it up to the crowd, was is something that just is probably intimidating for anyone to talk about, that most of us are probably not very knowledgeable about?
Brain surgery, thank you Jim. (laughter)
Speak for yourself Jim.
I like that that's the first words you've said in an hour.
He just goes, brain surgery.
Thanks a lot.
So, you are a famous brain surgeon now, and you're gonna be asking questions to him and I understand that we are in improv fueled class and there's going to be some imagination involved. But I did say even if, be honest even if you don't know the answer. So with that in mind press, I want you to pepper your questions with some questions he may be able to answer even though he is not a brain surgeon in real life, and then some he definitely can't, and let's see what happens when he is kind of having to stick and move with questions that he may not be comfortable answering because he doesn't know the answer, or he doesn't want to answer them. But you just finished your talk, ladies and gentlemen, he'll take questions now from the audience.
Thank you, looking forward to some great questions. Yes.
Hi, I'm Kimberly, I'm with Your Brain Today, and I'm wondering what are your preferred rituals before you go in for brain surgery?
Well, I stand on my head usually before because I want a lot of blood flow before the surgery. I also talk to my colleagues, because really I'm good at managing other people, and there's a lot of management that goes into this, 'cause your brain is big and it needs a lot of help.
Thank you. (audience chuckling)
Hi, I'm Shawiq from Your Brain Tomorrow. (audience laughing)
Come on, I mean the improv thinking is working.
What would you say would be the most complex cortices to perform surgery on?
The biggest one?
The really big one, and I like to say that I wish I knew more, but my colleague is out today.
This is Rodney Stewie, from the Your Brain Yesterday, and I was just wondering you've had what? 453 surgeries to date. You lost somebody last week, what happened?
I didn't stand on my head before that surgery, and I was missing a colleague, who I definitely need, and my hand wasn't very steady that day.
Our hearts go out to you.
He'll take no further questions. (audience laughing) Because of the pending law suit. Give him a round of applause. (audience clapping) Alright, great job Jonathan. So, that was a great fun way to experiment with Q&A obviously in this improvisational structure. The way that we did it, and the way you can do it on your own is talk about something you know, and have people pepper you with those questions, or maybe off-topic as well, and then talk about something you don't know. See what it feels like to be uncomfortable. Is anyone in this room a brain surgeon? I don't think so, maybe you will be after today. But none of us in here are, so if any of us were in his shoes, most likely if that went on any longer, you would get to a place where you didn't know the answer. I want you to know that it's okay to not know, and get used to not knowing because we all don't know a lot and that's okay. I think a lot of times when we're speakers and we take questions from the audience there is this like strange expectation we put on ourselves that we have to know everything, and we just don't, and it's okay. And the best way to prepare for a Q&A, is to like I said already, I use this phrase, like self scout yourself. What questions do you expect and you want? And to try to colonize them in this way, what questions do you expect that you want? What questions do you expect that you don't want? And then maybe just a slew of questions that you could not think of why anyone would ask them, but if someone did, you'd know that they had an answer that you could come up with, because what you really need to do is think about being comfortable enjoying that part of the process. We work with a lot of speakers that they love talking about the thing that they do for a living, but they hate talking to the audience afterward. But you know what, if you love talking about things, and you're a good speaker, you're just gonna get more speaking opportunities which means more people are gonna wanna ask you questions, which means you're gonna have to do more Q&A's. So, you're gonna have to find the fun in that too, that's a part of every exercise we've done in every class, make Q&A's fun, whatever that means for you, but also be respectful to the audience, because they may ask you something you don't wanna answer, but you have to have a way of answering it, to keep the game going if you will, and I think that's a great way to prep, is just kind of colonizing based on self scouting yourself because you're inevitably gonna get that question about the person you lost in the operation. and I think you handled it--
It's on public domain.
Yeah, and you handled it beautifully, in the fact that you called back the information you had already given us, but at the same time you're going down.
And also then I think that's... I wanna point out too, this idea of you, once you've done your columns and you've thought about these questions. If you're rehearsing this in front of someone else, which you probably should be, rehearsing in front of other people that's a really great tool that you have access to other people to say, "Hey, I'd love to run my talk by you." And then have them ask you questions, so that you're also getting to curate questions from other people that maybe you didn't think of, and you're able to think on the fly, and then having, as Sammy said, you really have those responses prepared for the things that you can't talk about, don't wanna talk about, or need to deflect. So that you practiced saying that, not just like, "Oh, when it happens, "I know I'll say it,." But like to really practice saying, "I love to talk to you about that afterwards." Or, "I have a nondisclosure, "and I'm not allowed to talk about that?" And just really practicing over and over, so it feels easy and it feels comfortable, and then that helps to minimize that emotional reaction as well, so it doesn't feel emotionally charged when it happens, that you might have a reaction to it that's discomfort or whatever that is, and the more you've practiced it, the easier it becomes for you to have that deflection, and to have that response. So practice it, practice it, practice it. Ask people to ask you questions, give your talk and make that part of your rehearsal so that it feels easy and like just part of something else that you're doing.
Yeah, and I think there's nothing... Thank you. There's nothing in the world of public speaking and presenting as we know it in the workplace, that is more like improvisation and Q&A's. And why people are so terrified of them is because people in general, I think we all are, are just a little scared of the unknown, and probably scared of people because you don't know what you're gonna do, you know what's gonna come next, and the same is true for Q&A's, it's got a whole other stigma to it, in addition to how people feel about getting up in front of an audience, and speaking about something that you've memorized or you're gonna read or whatever. But the only way to get over that, or at least to help yourself with that fear and anxiety, is to practice it. If you're getting this lesson from so many things that we do it's that, you're never gonna be ready for everything, but all you can do is get those reps, and get that muscle memory of that very low stakes uncomfortable feeling that you get when you're in these types of exercises. We're in a safe environment, there is no consequences to getting it wrong, but the more you put yourself into these kind of situations the more comfortable you're gonna feel when the stakes are high, and your job is in play and it is something that you're actually doing as a part of your profession.
And to amplify that, I wanna reiterate something we've said in other classes which is that, Sammy and I actually came in here with some of the CreativeLive people and we actually practiced this in advance. So we did our warm-ups, we did a practice together, and then we came in here, and so we were able to have that experience of what is it like to do this with an audience, and what is like to have questions that we don't expect. And well, nothing that we've done is scripted, it allowed us to really learn from the experience, and to gather information from the participants. So, having some of the people here come in and be our volunteers, was really helpful to us. So we practice what we preach because it's useful and it's helpful. And it helped us to feel more confident, in what we're doing but also in how we're doing it. And to be a little more prepared for things that might be unexpected, so that we can control what we can control, and feel confident in that, and then be more ready to adjust to what happens in the moment.
Yeah, and my final sports reference. (Kimberly laughs) Is if you wanna watch somebody whose amazing at Q&A's watch the Golden State Warriors coach, Steve Kerr press conferences. They play so many games a year, so you have plenty of opportunities. But he is incredible at it, he knows how to diffuse the most tense situations. He's talked about things from people having seizing and ending injuries, to what's happening in Washington and politics because he's a very, very open-minded and outspoken person, but he's just very, very poised when somebody nails him with a question, you would never expect after a basketball game.