You can pick them out of a crowd: Q-tippers stand in the question line with a huge wooden horse laden with treasured bits of wisdom in tow. Their words are sugar coated but malicious, as though they spill from the sweet tea stained lips of a Napoleonic southern belle who might use kindness instead of the French army to overtake the world. Matlock would object to their leading questions, but he’s not at your presentation, so the onus is on you to handle them.
To diffuse the situation, you have to understand the nature of Q-tipping. Before you ever walked into the room, the Q-tippers were incredulous: it should have been an internal speaker, they think, and they have themselves in mind. If you are internal, it’s worse. They’ve seen your work enough to judge you more intimately. They have enough courage to critique you in public, but not enough to do it openly.
And that’s just it: Q-tippers are annoyingly meek, in an assertive kind of way. They use the Trojan horse method because they don’t want to come off as rude while they are being rude. But, their questions are thinly veiled at best: “Don’t you think…” and, “Wouldn’t it be better…” are popular phrases across Q-tip culture. Worst of all, just like the little cotton-tipped dumbbells, Q-tips come in packs of 500 or more. Open their bag of goodies and you’ve lost control of the Q&A, one of the most valuable parts of any presentation.
Just remember: beneath that innocent visage lies a bitter, vindictive soul. But that doesn’t mean you come off righteous if you crush them. They know everything anyway. If you’ve taken 100 businesses from the courthouse steps to profitability, they’ve read 101 case studies about how to do it better. Disengagement is your best bet. Thank them for their input, and quickly press on.
The Takeaway: Keep cool, and keep your business before you. If you wanted audience feedback, you would distribute an anonymous survey at the end.
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