3 Tips for Responding to Impromptu Questions

Your presentation went great and now it's time for the Q&A. But what if someone asks a question for which you aren't prepared? The Public Speaker has 3 ways to structure your response for impromptu questions. 

Lisa B. Marshall
2-minute read
The Quick And Dirty

Structure your response to questions you weren't prepared for by focusing on clarity, brevity, and impact. 

When responding to an impromptu question, the idea is to structure your response for clarity, brevity, and impact. By learning and implementing these 3 impromptu response structures, your answers will always sound organized and confident:

1. PREP: Position, Reason, Example, Position (PREP). In this model, first you state your position on the topic, and then you state your reason for taking that position. Next, you provide an example or story that supports your reason. Finally, you summarize by restating your position.

2. PEP: Point, Example, Point (PEP). It’s easier than the first one and can be used to answer a wider variety of questions. Start by briefly making a point or stating a key idea or objective. Then you give an example or story that proves your point. Then you wrap up by restating the main idea, or your main point. When you are short on time, this is the way to go.

3. Divide & Conquer: The final structure calls for you to quickly think of a way to divide up your response. There are a few classic two and three part divisions that you’ll want to memorize such as: past, present, future; problem, solution; cost, benefit; us, them; ideal, real; low, medium, high. Of course, there are many of these, so try to practice the ones that are common to your field. These are easy, you just pick an appropriate division and then include a little bit for each section.  


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.