At some point in your daily work when attending meetings, business parties, sales meetings and having other encounters with new people, you must also have gotten a question that knocked you cold and tied your tongue? At least this happens to me from time to time.
I am sitting in a meeting. Perhaps I am in the middle of presenting my services and am thinking to myself that “I am doing quite well”.
Just then the potential client I am speaking to ask me a question that gets me out of balance. I am silenced, try to catch my breath again and end up saying something which I will later regret and think “how could I say that?”.
Through the years I have had quite a large number of meetings and every week I meet many people in different contexts and environments. Believe it or not, but even I have been rendered speechless by a question I have been asked before. Come to think of it, there are more accurately a handful of questions which I from time to time find it difficult to respond to with a concrete and distinct answer.
These have for instance been:
- Do you really live as you learn?
- What is your ideal client?
- Shouldn’t you start educating and certifying more struktörs to expand you business so that others can work for you?
- Could we collaborate in some way?
- What effects do you expect your work with us will have at our company?
- What is the best price you can give us?
- Can you do something about the price?
- Let’s go all around and introduce ourselves since some do not know everyone. How about you go first, David?
(Today I am certain of the answers to these questions. If you are curious of my responses, e‑mail me!)
You see, these questions are quite predictable. This means that we have good hope of not hesitating the next time we are asked one of them, if we only have a bit of foresight now.
Think before you speak
Let us formulate what we want to answer such questions with now in advance and then make sure that this reply is easily accessible whenever we might be asked the question corresponding to our prepared answer.
Preparing in this way provides us with the opportunity to give a well-balanced response which is unambiguous and which we afterwards, as we are on our way home and think back on the meeting and what we said, will feel comfortable with.
- Think about what questions you tend to get somewhat frequently and which slightly throw you off. What questions have this effect on you?
- Write them down on a piece of paper or in a digital document (such as Word or some other word-processing program).
- For every question, formulate what you would want your response to be if you were given all the time in the world to come up with a good answer. Well? The answer you thought of now was far better and snappier than you usually come up with on the spot, wouldn’t you say?
- Now you only have to make the answers easily accessible. And what is easier in terms of access than memorizing them? Hence, practice and memorize the answers until they are ingrained deep in mind and memory.
This is somewhat like memorizing vocabulary, so you can rehearse the answers in several different ways:
- Write the questions to the left on a sheet of paper and the answers to the right. Cover the answers with another paper and ask yourself the questions. Check each correct response after attempting to answer the question.
- Get a bunch of index-cards from the office supplies store (that is, plain white cards the size of playing cards). Write the question on one side and the response on the other. Pull random cards from the deck you have just made, read the question and answer it without peeking.
- Create virtual cards in the webservice quizlet.com and quiz yourself (and yes, you may consider yourself working as you do this).
- You know, there is an app for this. I use the Flashcards*-app on my iPhone and if you have an Android you will get a thousand hits if you do perform a search for “flashcards” in Android Market.
- When you feel that the answers come naturally and without hesitation, give yourself a pat on the back by rewarding yourself in a way which pleases you.
Speaking is silver, but having a perfect comeback to a question is gold
If you no longer have to hesitate when you are asked one of those questions which you predict will come sooner or later, you will provide an answer you can be proud of. You will get through the critical meeting with much greater confidence and will think positive thoughts about yourself after it is over rather than “how could I say what I did!?”.
What is your method?
How do you prepare yourself for what might occur during important business meetings? Feel free to leave a comment to tell myself and others.