Give polished off-the-cuff responses

Successful speakers handle impromptu questions with ease. Their answers appear planned, pertinent and polished—even if the question caught them off guard. Use the acronym SEER to guide you to create better spontaneous responses. The letters remind you of these elements:

Summary. Give a one-sentence statement that sums up your answer.

Elaboration. Offer key points to support your answer.

Examples. Specific illustrations clarify and make your key points memorable.

Restatement. Wrap up by giving your one-sentence summary again.

Here is an example of the SEER technique in action. In this example, the question is “Do you think that we are likely to see more cuts that will affect our industry?”

Summary: “No, I don’t think that our industry will face further cuts at this time.”

Elaboration: “For the past three years, we have seen net operating margins grow by 6% industrywide.”

Examples: “Also, don’t forget that service industries like ours tend to revive more quickly than others. In the last recession, our recovery set in fully six months before other industries noticed improvement.”

Restatement: “So no, I do not think that we need to worry about taking another blow in the near future.”

— Adapted from Speak With Confidence, Dianna Booher, McGraw-Hill, www.mhprofessional.com.

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