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How To Handle The Unexpected
01. Difficult Questions
Ask for a moment to think and reflect if you need to.
If you don’t understand the question completely – rephrase the question in your own words and check with the interviewer if your understanding is correct.
If you don’t know:
Even if you don’t know the answer, can you explain the approach you will take to find it: For example – look in the documentation, speak with industry experts you know, experiment with the technology etc.
Suggest a possible answer if you don’t know and ask the questioner what his viewpoint or answer would be.
Even if you have had experience with some aspects of the question talk about it. It’s ok if you don’t now the exact thing being asked in the question.
Don’t use cliches like – “it’s a good question”.
02. Difficult People
Derailing your presentation with a question not related to your slide:
If a question is answered later in your presentation – mention that it is addressed in a few minutes.
Put the question in the parking lot: You can also write it down on the whiteboard and say you will address it in a few minutes.
If there is a break in the middle of the presentation, find the disruptive guy and engage him in a conversation. Share with him your perspective that your presentation’s scope doesn’t cover his questions but you can get back to him later if he would prefer.
Remember that in a presentatioin which is part of an interview someone may act as a bad guy. Even if you can’t answer his questions, your overall credibility will not be affected if you carry yourself with confidence.
03. Difficult Situations
People talking among themselves:
If two people are talking and not paying attention – you should stop talking and just look at those two people politely. The other participants would nudge them to be quite.
If you have unintentional disruptive cross talk on a phone presentation, ask the attendees to put themselves on mute and unmute themselves when they want to ask a question.
Easy Trick: Prepare a black slide which you can bring up during a disruption in the presentation. This has the effect of everybody in the room paying full attention to you.
Technology & Time Issues
When you turn up for the presentation, the projector, internet or laptop doesn’t work. Have printouts of your slides ready to distribute to the participants in some a case.
Remote attendees can not join in the presentation online. Have your presentation ready in a pdf format which you can email to them. pdf format is important since it can be viewed on all devices including iphones, ipads, other smartphones etc.
You are asked to shorten your presentation by 80%. Keep a short ‘Executive” version of the presentation for such an eventuality.
The attendees may not have any background information about your topic. Plan some very clear, short “30 second explanations” which explain the concepts which are needed to understand your topic.