This tip will help you answer hard questions.

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Imagine you’re presenting in a meeting with your bosses and suddenly somebody raises their hand and asks you a question.

You should be able to answer the question, but you’re finding it difficult to think on the spot.

What do you do?

Being in front of a group of people and speaking off the cuff can be hard. Getting a question that you have to answer on the spot can be even harder.

I want to introduce you to a technique called “Buying Time”.

If you struggle to respond to a question in a timely manner, you might lose the confidence of your audience. So this technique will help you stay and look calm while you come up with an answer.

There are several ways to buy time.

I’m going to share one with you today: use filler phrases.

Fillers are words that carry little meaning and are used to “fill the time”. In speaking, it’s normal because it makes you sound natural. It allows you to gather your thoughts and think about what to say next.

Here are some examples of “filler phrases”.

I’m so glad you asked me that…
I see that you’re interested in this subject…
I get this question quite often…

Try to memorise some of these phrases so that you can use them the next time you need to answer a difficult question.  

Bonus tip: You can mention the person’s name in the phrases. This helps if the person asking seems hostile.

For example:

Julie: What are you and your team doing right now to solve this problem?
You: I’m so glad you asked me that, Julie. My team and I have been…

So there you have it. I hope you found this tip helpful.

Do you want to speak English with confidence?

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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