You presented successfully, you thanked the audience and you received a lot received a lot of applause. Your first question comes and you do not quite understand it, but it appears to be about a topic you know a lot about. What do you do next?
Well, if you go ahead and give an answer without ensuring understanding, you will very likely be answering the wrong question. Instead, use the following techniques to help you build confidence in your understanding:
Ask the audience member to repeat the whole question because you unable to hear 90% of it. Say something like: I’m terribly sorry, could you say that again?
If you heard many of words, but still lack understanding, ask the audience member to rephrase the question. Use an expression such as: I’m sorry I didn’t quite understand. Could you say that another way?
You heard the question and have 90% understanding, but you are unsure about a word or expression. In this case, confirm your understanding asking for clarification as in the following example:
Audience member: Has there been much gentrification in Boston?
Presenter: I’m sorry, what do you mean by “gentrification”?
As a presenter, it is better to use technique 3, if you can, rather than 2. Similarly, it is preferable to use technique 2 rather than 1. Above all, it is always better to ensure understanding.