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Create an example bank to guard against on stage disasters

One trick to manage your keynote Q&A session

One trick to manage your keynote Q&A session

There are some experiences in life that you just can’t be too prepared for. A live speech is one of those things.

One place in which I see speakers drop the ball is when an audience member asks a question.

Sometimes it’s tough to think on your feet! Especially in front of a few hundred people.

Even if you know the answer, you might get tripped up in deciding how much detail to go into at that moment, or trying to decide what background info that person needs to know. There are a lot of split-second decisions to make in front of a lot of people. And, if you already feel a little anxiety, it’ll all just feel worse.

But, with just a little extra preparation, you can guard against this and appear professional and knowledgeable even when the audience throws something unexpected at you.

Create an example bank to guard against on stage disasters

Create an example bank to guard against on stage disasters

What is this extra prep? It’s an example bank. A collection of examples that you can pull from to ask a variety of questions so you’re ready for anything.






Gather examples


The first thing to do is gather a list of examples that you have on hand. If you already have a blog, podcast or vlog, this should be easy. Just pick ones you already use on a regular basis. Also take note of those you find yourself using in everyday conversation with clients.


Then, match these examples with a broad category of questions. For example, I know that people ask me about how to speeches a lot. I have a go to example about how to make mac & cheese that I use frequently. It can be adjusted for just about any how to speech question.


Outline the example

Take a minute to outline each of your examples. This is basically just a way for you to pick out the main points that you want to highlight so that when you’re on stage you’re not left searching for the words to explain this example. It’ll already be in your memory bank.

[Related: 5 Tips to help you handle unexpected situations while on-stage]

Create back-up slides


If your example is best explained visually, keep some extra slides at the back of your deck, or near where you’ll be discussing the point related to this example. And if the audience needs some extra explanations, you’ll have something ready to go.


If someone asks me a question that I feel could use another example, I’ll just quickly flip to the slide and walk through the example. This little trick makes you look extra prepared. (Tweet it. You know you love it. 🙂


Your turn – what’s your tip for appearing extra prepared and guarding against unexpected questions on stage? I’d love to hear in the comments below!


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About the Author Sandy Donovan

Sandy empowers the young and talented to increase their power and influence by improving their ability to be heard and be clear. She does this by providing access to rigorously tested research in the communication, psychology, and marketing fields.