I am a fashion designer student. I have given numerous presentations but one thing always bothers me: the level and frequency of questions by the questioners. By that I mean some folks in the class ask difficult questions sometimes which makes me a little nervous. And by frequency I mean repeatedly getting questions from folks esp. when teacher has left for a while and there is a mayhem in the hall.

I want an answer where those two things are addressed specifically.

Any good tips in handling such situation? Thanks.

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    "Excellent question" (double-level entendre intended) Apr 15, 2016 at 1:20
  • Don't forget to breathe. ;)
    – JoErNanO
    Apr 15, 2016 at 9:55
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    Are you presenting when they ask questions? Are lots-of-questions normal for your class, or do you think there is an element of bullying here? How often does your teacher leave in the middle of class? I am aware of the irony in asking all these questions... Apr 15, 2016 at 11:00

6 Answers 6


In this situation, you're a presenter and you're getting bombarded with questions, is this right? Are people incessantly asking questions and not letting you answer, or do you just feel this way because you shut down in front of the audience?

First, relax, because as the presenter, you have the floor, and you should thus be in control of the room. This mentality has helped me in the past because if you're presenting, pending time limitations, you're the highest authority in the room aside from the chair/professor, and you're free to speak at your own pace, discuss things in your preferred order, etc. Others should respect this, and remembering this gives you power.

Pace yourself, and take time to think. If someone interrupts you, etc. tell them that you'd like to answer the previous question before you get to them. Stand tall, and crossing your arms behind your back helps posture to an extent, and try to not focus on one person in particular as you answer questions. Watching their reactions can be intimidating.

Just make sure to not focus on the people asking questions or how you feel about questions, but rather on how you feel about where you are in describing what you wanted to talk about.

Edit: If you don't have an answer, that is also fine, and never be afraid to say "I don't know". This is still part of the presentation, and that is what you have to offer. If you don't like not knowing it, ask the person asking the question if they can give you their information so you can follow up with an answer later.


The answer is: crowd control. You have to establish yourself as in-control forthright. This can be difficult to do, but it is important to establish that YOU are in control. The first time someone blurts out a question, just say: 'i have a lot to get through, we can take questions later'. Most likely the audience will comply.

As for difficult questions (that I assume you cannot answer): listeners respect people who can honestly say they do not know the answer to a question. It demonstrates character. Better yet, take that difficult question, admit you do not know, but state that you know how to get the answer, and thank them for their astute observation.


This sort of thing improves with practice. That is why you were assigned to do it. Keep doing it and it will get better.

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    Yes, but it's hard to get better or practice if you feel like you're not up to the challenge and flounder whenever something like that comes up. "what doesn't kill you makes your stronger" is a good mentality but is it really constructive at the onset of learning to answer questions in this context? Apr 15, 2016 at 2:06

I agree with practice, but it may be better to start in a more comfortable environment. Form a practice talk group with some of your fellow students. Give each talk to the group before it is due for presentation to the whole class.

You can begin by only asking each other easy questions, and not too many, then gradually work up.


As you are a student, it is not a shame to say that you don't know the answer

According to my experience, it is always better to say the truth rather than saying something wrong that could put you in a more difficult situation.

Probably, when you say something wrong, you will feel that you say something wrong and this will probably increase more your stress and also there is another risk that other people in audience react as you say something wrong.

It is better to take a little notebook and a pen. When you feel that you can not answer the question. You can take your pen and notebook and say something like

"Good point, I did not think about it, I will think about it."

It is not a shame to not know something, we can not know everything so better is to be honest and show to audience that you are open to learn and progress. For me, this works always.


"Fake it 'til you make it" may do good work here. Observe people who are cool as cucumbers faced with this situation. (Do not omit your instructors, many of whom have dealt with question barrages -- occasionally hostile ones, at that -- for years or even decades.) See if you can work out useful verbal or postural techniques they use to manage the questions. When it's your turn, be like them -- pretend you ARE them if it helps!

If stereotype threat is part of the issue here because you are part of an underrepresented demographic in your field, remind yourself that you are unique, with your own unique and valuable take on things. Somewhat-preliminary research suggests this is helpful.

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