Make the most of your question and answer sessions by keeping these in mind:

Listen empathetically for subtext: Answer questions directly, but also try to identify and address any deeper ones behind them. (You’ll often find a larger issue or unspoken motive lurking in the shadows.) Say you’re in HR and you’re hosting an orientation for employees from a recently acquired company. If people ask why they don’t get to have monthly employee birthday parties anymore, you may be tempted to brush that off as silly—but the birthday parties are probably a symbol of a bigger underlying problem. The question behind the question might be: “The culture we used to have isn’t valued here. How can we hang on to some of the traditions that made our organization feel like a family?”

Admit when you don’t know something: Don’t fake an answer. Ever. Your audience will see right through it. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say that—and offer to do some research after the presentation and get back to the group.

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