How to answer tough questions respectfully

If there is anything more feared by many people than public speaking, it is taking questions from a hostile audience. Jerry Weissman provides excellent advice on how to handle hostile questions in his book In the Line of Fire: How to Handle Tough Questions… When It Counts. The book aims to show you how to control question-and-answer session and enable you to win in your exchanges when it counts.

According to the author, defensive, evasive or contentious responses to challenging questions cause loss of credibility. Prompt, assured and pertinent responses avoid such damage. The book provides advice on all aspects of the Question and Answer session, including identifying and vocalising the key issues in questions, how to retake the floor after a question has been asked, how to use a buffer to neutralise a hostile question, and how to apply top spin to your answers.

Numerous different actual Q & A sessions are described and analysed, including several debates between US presidential candidates. I found this to be one of the most useful public-speaking-related books that I have read, as it explains how to answer questions in a way that is respectful to the questioner and convincing to the audience, even when the questions are hostile. I highly recommend the book to anyone who engages in public speaking.

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