How to Skillfully Address a Difficult Question

Image: Official GDC
Image: Official GDC

One of the most uncomfortable positions for a speaker is to be challenged by the press. Unfortunately, it can occur at any given moment during a public event, and it's something you have to be prepared for.

In an excerpt from PR News' Media Training Guidebook, Vol. 5, Debra L. Seifert, managing partner of Debra Seifert Communications LLC, provides a three-step guide to skillfully addressing any objection.

1. Acknowledge the challenger personally. They need to know they are being heard.

2. Don’t dodge the question. You shouldn’t try to deny what they are saying or avoid their question. Don’t give an answer, if you truly don’t have one.

3. Turn the question to the positive. Even in a worst-case scenario, you can respond positively. Let’s say there was a large layoff at one of the company’s divisions because of a product that failed in the market. In this scenario, you will need to acknowledge the failure. You should show sincere sympathy for the human impact, that people are losing their jobs. Then, discuss what the company has done to correct the source of the product failure and how market growth can be achieved by addressing a different part of the market.

Want to learn how to craft core messages and sound bites that resonate? Register for the September 10 PR News Media Training Workshop in New York City.

Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis.