We see quite a few pitches at Techstars. And we also therefore are involved in many Q&A sessions afterwards. In one recent session, I noticed lots of what I call “negative space” so I wanted to jot down some thoughts.
When answering questions, especially in a group or public setting, you can show mastery by answering questions quickly and succinctly. Anticipate the normal questions and practice your answers. Make sure they’re short and clear answers.
Also, train yourself to avoid phrases like “To be honest,” or “That is a great question.”
Both of these create negative space.
If you start your response with “To be honest,” it gives the impression that you’re not usually honest, but in this case, you decided to tell the truth.
“That’s a great question” seems innocuous enough, but it implies that the other questions were not as good. (And if you say it after every question, it loses its significance.)
A few seconds of silence never hurt anyone. When someone asks a question, if you have to pause to think about your response, that’s fine. Pause. Think for a few seconds. Then give a thoughtful answer. You don’t need to create negative space while you stall. Thinking is allowed!