moth to a flame

What NOT to do when presenting: Moth to a flame

When an audience member asks you a question from the floor, be careful for what’s known as the moth to a flame syndrome. This is where you hone in on the person who asked the question and exclude everybody else, which breaks rapport with the group at large. And you’ll have to try very hard to re-establish that rapport with everybody.

So what should you do instead?

Make sure that you thank the person for their question, look right at them, call them by their name, if possible. This gives status to the question asker and it encourages further questions. Then, open out to the whole group. Look at as many people as you can, and paraphrase the question so everybody knows what the question was. This helps you maintain 100% inclusion.

Be super sure you don’t turn your back on anyone while you’re answering a question.

As an extra tip, make sure that once you’ve answered the question, you go back to that question asker and thank them for their question. Say something like, “Thank you Flossie for your question.”

And then, look away from that person again and re-engage everybody else in the group.

Happy presenting! 

© Michelle Bowden 2020.  Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media.

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