Difficult Questions from the Audience in a Presentation: How to Deal with Them and What to Do Next


Introduction: Why are difficult questions a problem?

A survey conducted by U.S. News and World Report found that Americans are far more likely to answer the hard questions with “I don’t know”, rather than admitting it.

This survey is the first of its kind, so it is difficult to compare the findings to past surveys.

We don’t know what is causing this shift in response rate, but it seems our society has become meeker over time.

This is troublesome because asking tough questions can be a sign of progress or even a sign that someone cares about their future or that of others around them.

Yet most people are afraid to be vulnerable enough to ask hard questions for fear of looking foolish or getting laughed at by others. This phenomenon has led many people who are feeling overwhelmed.


We have in our previous articles talked about;

  1. how to start a presentation
  2. how to end a presentation
  3. how to make a first great impression in a presentation

So if you already feel comfortable, let’s get started.

What is the Best Way to Respond When You’re Asked a Difficult Question?

There are actually many different ways to answer a difficult question, but the best way is to provide a short and to-the-point answer. The reason why this is the best way is because it will help you avoid any other misunderstandings that may occur while you are answering the question.

Tips for Dealing with Difficult Questions as a Speaker

As a speaker, you will be faced with questions that are difficult, controversial, or even personal. There are many ways that you can respond to these types of questions – but there is no one right answer. Find out how to deal with these types of questions in the most confident way.

Questions are not always easy to answer. Some are controversial, some are clearly personal in nature, and others may seem too difficult for the speaker to handle. As speakers, it’s important to take control of the situation by thinking about what your audience would want and expect from you and how they would react afterwards. You should also consider what would happen if someone else had answered the question instead of you- what effect might this have on your reputation?

One common question is “What’s your secret?”

Let me give you a few tips on how to deal with difficult questions from the audience.

  1. Open Up: First of all, open up, instead of closing down, say to the audience, are there any questions with a smile? And that’s how you will discourage people who would try to ignore you with difficult questions because they see how confident you are.
  2. Know your stuff: Be prepared, you’re the expert in front of the audience. And that’s why it’s quite difficult to convince an audience if you have to deliver a presentation that has Second tip, been made by someone else, make it your own, make sure that you are able to answer any question from the audience be prepared.
  3. Dare to admit that you don’t have the answer: right at this moment in time, maybe you can say there’s no scientific research in that domain for this moment, or I don’t have those numbers or figures. Let me look them up for you, give me your mail address, and I’ll get back to you.
    Or maybe you can say, “Well, that’s exactly Bob’s specialty. Bob’s my colleague, and maybe you can get in contact on the network event afterwards”. What you don’t want to do is give an answer that might not be correct, because there might be someone in the audience saying, I don’t think that’s quite right, what you’re saying here.

    And then swatch, there goes your answer with your presentation down the drain. So dare to admit that you don’t have the answer right here right now.
  4. Take Charge: And then the last tip I want to give you, you know them, those people who actually find themselves very interesting, and so they ask you a very long and elaborate question. And the audience is asking themselves, where is this going?

    And how is the speaker going to deal with this person who really wants to put himself or herself in the center of the attention? What I do there? I put on my most cheeky smile.

    I look at that person, I say yes, and what exactly is your question? And then that whole bubble of self-importance is going to implode and the audience will start to giggle and they know that you are taking the lead.

How to Answer Tough Audience Questions Professionally and Tactfully

We can never anticipate what questions the audience will ask, so we need to be prepared for anything. It’s not just about preparing a list of generic questions and answers you can use in any situation. You should also prepare for the “tough” questions that you know could be asked and may seem inappropriate or too personal.

A good way to answer tough audience questions is to personalize your responses and tailor them to the specific person who asks them. This takes a lot of confidence, but it will make people feel much more at ease when you take time out from the presentation to address their concerns. This way, they feel like they are being heard and valued which results in a better presentation overall.


In this article, we have discussed how you can answer these types of tough questions.

We have discussed how to prepare for these types of tough questions by understanding the knowledge and skills that a recruiter is looking for, highlighting your strengths and avoiding potential pitfalls.

In conclusion, it is important to prepare yourself for the interview process by understanding what you want to get from it and knowing what the employer is looking for.