A portion of my training is devoted to Q & A, both how to formulate your answer, but also how to make sure you truly answer the question.
What I am discovering is presenters answer the question they think they hear.
Why not be respectful of the questioner and find out what s/he truly means, rather than assuming?
In a recent training, a fellow participant asked the presenter at the end of his (mock) presentation, “Tell me your process.”
The presenter launched into an explanation that didn’t answer the question.
Instead, he should have done some investigative work. Here is an example of how you can get to the true intent.
“We have several processes in place for both budgeting and scheduling. Is there one that you wanted me to focus on?”
Here is another example.
Q: “Tell us about Project A?”
A: “I am happy to. Is there a particular phase you are interested in?”
Reach clarity before you answer.
Clarification not only helps you narrow your response (generally, answers should be around 1 minute or less), but more importantly, the questioner will feel listened to, and you will answer the question s/he asked.
Some people might over use this as a stalling technique, and it is true…this does buy you time. However, my suggestion is always to be authentic and to only use this when you genuinely need clarity.