Answering and questioning in the seminars


PLEASE NOTE: LOC has now closed. We're no longer accepting new registrations.

Answering and questioning in the seminars

Insert ALT text for image here

Insert image caption here


The question and answer (Q&A) session is an essential part of any seminars. Good questions stimulate the audience intellectually and create an exciting atmosphere. Questions can also become an eye-opener for the presenter towards an entirely new direction of research. 


In this activity you will explore how to ask and answer questions in seminars.  And you will learn useful expressions and tips with regard to asking and answering questions in seminars.

Activity 1: Tips of asking and answering questions

Recall some Q&A sessions in any seminars you have experienced and make your intuitive judgement.


Look at each of these statements about good notes and decide if they are true or false. Then read the feedback.

1) In order to show your attention on seminar, you could ask a question which is even asked by someone else.

2) In order to impress the speaker or other audience present, you could show what you have achieved in that field when asking a question.

3) In order to make the speaker understand your question, you could make a long context.

4) In order to show your respect and love to the speaker, you could try to butter up the speakers or get too personal.

5) In order to show you have paid thorough attention to the speaker’s ideas, you could ask questions with multiple parts.

6) If you don’t understand a question, confirm it!

7) If you need time to answer a question, ask for it.

8) If you are going into detailed explanations, give a short and direct answer first.

9) If you don’t know the answer, be honest and say you don’t know!



Activity 2: Filling the gaps-1


There are some short statements with some words missing. Please fill in the blanks with the expressions provided.

Here are four ways of checking with the speaker. Write in the missing pairs of words.



1 Sorry, I that. Could you that again, please?

2 Sorry, I didn’t that. Could you it, please?

3 Sorry, I don’t quite you. Could you just through that again, please?

4 Sorry, I don’t quite what you mean. Could you just that, please?

Activity 3: Select the missing word


Below you will find the request for clarification. Select the missing word.

  • explain
  • run
  • be
  • tell
  • elaborate
  • say 

1 When you were talking about the current level of foreign investment in China, you quoted a figure of $34 billion. Could you us how you arrived at that figure?

2 When you were describing to us what kind of future you see for China, you commented on the importance of Hong Kong. Could you a bit more about that?

3 When you were dealing with the issue of Chinese government, you made the point that they had created a free market within a command economy. Could you to us exactly what you mean by that?

4 When you were summing up China’s economic prospects over the next five years, you said something about hundreds of billions of dollars still being needed. Could you a little more specific?

5 When you were showing us China’s trade figures for the last three years, you spoke about the development of private enterprises. Could you on that?

6 When you were telling us why there’s so much interest at the moment in Asian-Pacific markets, you referred to a decline in foreign investment elsewhere, particularly in Latin America. Could you us through that again?

Activity 4: Identifying


Put the following responses to questions into four groups:

  • good questions
  • difficult questions
  • unnecessary questions
  • irrelevant questions

1.  I’m afraid I don’t see the connection.                  

2 Sorry, I don’t follow you.

3. I don’t know that off the top of my head.3 I don’t know that off the top of my head.

4.Can I get back to you on that?

5. I think I answered that earlier.5. I think I answered that earlier.  

6. Good point.6. Good point.

7. Interesting. What do you think?

8. Well, as I said…

9. I’m afraid I’m not in a position to comment on that. 

10. I wish I knew.

11. I’m glad you asked that.

12. Well, as I mentioned earlier…

13. To be honest, I think that raises a different issue.

14. That’s a very good question.

15. I’m afraid I don’t have that information with me.

Activity 5: More information you need to know.


1. Click the links below and read the web page to find more expressions relevant to asking and answering questions in a seminar.

2. Watch the video to know about the techniques of answering questions in a seminar.

1.  Please click  6 tips: Asking good questions at meetings, seminars

2. Please click How to Handle That Dreaded Question & Answer Period

Additional Resources


1) The picture from


3) excerpts translated from the Japanese textbook “NIG Method for Scientific English Presentation by Tatsumi Hirata, Todd Gorman and Yash Hiromi (dZERO Press, ISBN 978-4-907623-17-3)

© Q. Cao, WW. Hu & B. Yang/ UoS /copyright details and May 24th, 2018

Created using the LOC Tool, University of Southampton