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checkmarkHandling Difficult Questions (and Difficult People):

More about Handling Difficult Questions (and Difficult People)

Download these tips (pdf, 785 KB)

Main Ideas from the Video:

  1. Seize Control! Don't let the questioner hijack your presentation.
  2. Be pleasant: Don't argue. You won't convince someone with deeply held views.
  3. Respond neutrally and offer to talk at a later time.
  4. In a GROUP: Get back to the topic you were discussing.
  5. ONE-ON-ONE: You can either get back on topic OR change the subject.

Responding in a Group Setting:

Respond neutrally and get back on topic: Use the fewest words possible to get back on topic. The more you "give" to a confronter, the more the confronter has to work with. Be sure to look away* from the questioner when you are addressing a group.


*LOOK AWAY: A useful technique is to look away from the questioner once you start addressing the question. Look at others in the group as you answer. Do not keep looking at the person (and don't look back at the person when you finish your answer) or you are inviting a response.

Respond in a one-on-one with an individual: Acknowledge the person then change the subject.

Examples for acknowledging the person and then changing the subject:

Final Notes:

NSF logoSharing the Universe is based upon work supported by the Informal Education Division of the National Science Foundation under Grant no DRL-0638873. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.