There are three options available to you for when you take audience questions: throughout your presentation, at designated points in the presentation, or at the very end. Find out which is the right one for you.
As you have gleaned from the title of this story two of them are definitely better than the third. Taking questions at the end is not an absolutely terrible thing to do; it’s just that it’s … well … old. It’s what’s expected, it’s not audience-centric, and it does not positively impact your overall presentation success.
Let’s examine each tactic, then you choose which is the better fit for you.
Taking Questions at the Very End
PROS: The speaker is able to deliver all content uninterrupted. Plus, the speaker does not have to worry about losing her/his train of thought or getting derailed by a question to which he/she does not know the answer.
CONS(IDERATIONS): If an audience member has a question at minute 10 of a 60-minute presentation, then she/he has to sit and wait until the very end to get an answer. This can hamper her/his engagement with content presented after the 10-minute mark. Getting an answer to that question may be integral to her/him understanding the rest of the presentation. Additionally, if you wait until the end to take questions, you have to answer them out of context, creating a challenge for you, the presenter, in formulating an answer while simultaneously trying to recall at what point in the presentation you were that sparked the query.
Taking Questions at Designated Points
PROS: This gives the speaker the opportunity to regularly check for understanding, plus the audience does not feel the constraint that come from having to wait until the very end to get answers to their questions.
CONS(IDERATIONS): The speaker has to plan for this. If not done well by a thoughtful speaker who has incorporated appropriate transitions before and after the Q&A segment, then it can make the presentation seem choppy. To avoid a lull, the speaker must not assume there will be questions from the audience and instead must develop great questions to guide audience thinking.