When making presentations, many event professionals freeze when it comes to the Q&As. Unsure of what to expect, they worry about fielding tough questions from the audience. Experts point out that this is perfectly natural. Opening the floor to questions after a presentation opens the door to the unknown. Although you may be perceived as an expert, the audience could pose a question you don’t know the answer to, challenging your knowledge or credibility.

In a blog posting on HubSpot, Carly Stec offers 5 ways for event professionals to handle tough Q&As:

1. Don’t dodge or make up random answers to difficult questions. Your audience will see right through that. The wiser approach is to admit that you don’t know the answer, but are happy to investigate it. Then be sure to follow up. They will appreciate your honesty.

2. Take your time when answering a tough question. Summarize your understanding of what was asked, and ask for clarification so you don’t draw premature conclusions. Give yourself time to think before formulating a response. Pausing is not a sign of uncertainty.

3. Remain polite if an audience member becomes aggressive or stages a personal attack. Don’t raise your tone or become defensive. Defer his or her question, suggesting that you discuss it privately after the presentation. During that encounter, keep the focus on the question, rather than letting it become personal.

4. Don’t blindly respond to a difficult question by saying, “That’s a good question.” Such a response may cause other audience members to feel that their other questions were inadequate. Instead, say, “I’m glad you asked that.”

5. In general, embrace rather than avoid questions…they indicate audience interest and engagement. Encourage interaction by asking audience members to expand upon their own experiences with the topic.