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How to answer questions in meetings

How to Answer Questions in Meetings: Break the "That is a good question" Habit

| Laurie Brown | ,

How often have you heard or said "That's a good question."? Maybe you are even saying it now in response to my question. My guess is you hear or say it over and over again in meetings and presentations. Learn how to answer questions in meetings or presentations:

Why is it repeated so often? There are three main reasons:

  • It is an automatic response that is not tied to the quality of the question
  • It is a stall when you don't have an immediate answer
  • It is genuinely a good question.

What is so wrong about using "That is a good question."? 

First, it is overused and has lost any meaning. Second, how might someone feel who doesn't hear "That is a good question." in response to their question? I imagine they might feel "Oh, he has a good question, she has a good question, but mine is not good?"

What can you say instead of "That's a good question."?

  • If you do it automatically, retrain yourself to simply repeat the question, which is usually helpful to the other people in the meeting or presentation.
  • If you need some time to process, add a clarifying question, "Is that about ABC or XYZ?". This clarifying question will help give you time to think and formulate an answer.
  • What if it REALLY IS a good question? Yes, go ahead and compliment, but be specific about what makes it a good question. Or use these replacement phrases "Interesting, I hadn't thought about it that way" or "I'm glad you asked."

Replacing a rote response to a question with one of the above suggestions will help you sound more authentic and engaged.

Laurie Brown works with leaders and teams who want to use compelling communication to influence and persuade. Contact her if you want to improve your presentations.