How to Answer Questions Better Than Anyone Else

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Be as willing to respond to questions as you are willing to ask them. If you hesitate to answer, people think you aren’t cooperative, don’t know the answer, don’t know what you’re doing, or that you lack confidence. You might even be viewed as acting arrogant and superior in your nonresponse.

Choose your words and tone carefully to hit the right degree of clarity. Listen to what the question is. Keep a “pass the salt” tone of voice with no hidden agenda emotion. Maintain a relaxed facial expression.

Attentively lean forward to answer the questions simply, concisely, truthfully, and targeted to the audience. Follow the USA Today’s slogan: “Not the most words, just the right ones.” Keep the answers organized. Use complete sentences. End sentences. Provide one thought at a time.

Practice important or complicated answers when you’re not on the hot seat so that the answers come to you more readily when you are. Think about what you should, could, or want to answer to a question. Rehearse it in your head, and depending on the importance, rehearse it on your smart phone then play it back to hear how you sound. Listen and think how it will sound to others and how they’ll likely react. Change your wording if necessary to get the reaction you want.

Try out different words to test the different effects. Follow the instructions given to airline pilots who are taught to select words that minimize travelers’ anxiety. The phrasing “The new departure or arrival time is…,” is better than the word “late.” The word “gate” is preferable to “terminal.” And “destination” sure beats “final destination.”

Choose descriptive words since they have their own body language: For example, “We get a lot of referrals” is bland compared to, “We get a beautiful number of referrals.” “We work well together,” is less convincing than “We work in harmony.”

If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t and then go find it out. Don’t fake or try to fool with the hope that “if you throw things against the wall some will stick.” Don’t attempt to show how much you know when in truth you’re disorganized and nervous and don’t know. “I don’t know but I’ll find out,” works.

“Yes” and “no” are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question. They avoid the groan, “How short the question; how long the answer.”

“That’s something I choose not to answer,” can be your response if they are just being nosy. You don’t have to answer every question (just as they don’t have to answer yours), but it does tend to stop the conversation flow.

“I’m just going to skip that question” is an answer that works sometimes. It’s more straightforward than what politicians are taught in the art of “nonanswer.” As former White House insider George Stephanopoulos explains it, “The fundamental rule is to shoehorn what you want to say into the answer no matter what the question is.”

If you keep getting the same questions, you’re not answering well. Answer, and then ask, “Is that what you were asking?” or “Does that answer the question?” to make sure you did. Keep it a conversation, not an interview. Pay attention to micro-questions the person is asking. Pay attention to people’s answers to your questions. You need to hear and know their interests and priorities to determine the answers you need to give and questions you need to continue to ask.

Return to questions that were unanswered by you because they got skipped over with “Something I may not have explained well….” It shows you listen, remember, and take responsibility to answer as asked.

Author: Debra Benton
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Manufacturing Output Fell By 8.7% On-Year In April 2015

Output fell 1.9 per cent year-on-year after excluding biomedical manufacturing, according to latest data by the Economic Development Board. 

SINGAPORE: The Republic's manufacturing output declined 8.7 per cent year-on-year in April 2015, according to latest data by the Economic Development Board (EDB) released on Tuesday (May 26).

Excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 1.9 per cent on-year. On a seasonally-adjusted month-on-month basis, manufacturing output decreased 5.8 per cent, and excluding biomedical manufacturing, output fell 2.2 per cent month-on-month.

The output for the biomedical manufacturing cluster fell 28.6 per cent year-on-year, with pharmaceuticals output falling 38 per cent due to lower production of active pharmaceutical ingredients and biological products. However, the medical technology segment expanded 28.1 per cent due to robust demand for medical devices and supplies.

Output for the general manufacturing industries cluster dropped 5.1 per cent on-year last month. While the food, beverages and tobacco segment registered a growth of 9 per cent due to the higher production of soft drinks and milk products, this was offset by the miscellaneous industries segment, whose output declined 14.5 per cent, EDB said.

The electronics cluster output grew 1.2 per cent year-on-year. The growth was supported by higher export demand in the other electronics and components, data storage and computer peripherals segments, the report noted.

On the other hand, the precision engineering cluster contracted 2.1 per cent on-year, with the machinery & systems segment and precision modules & components segment registering declines. This was due to lower demand for process control equipment and mechanical engineering work, and lower output in metal precision components and metal stampings respectively, EDB said.

The transport engineering cluster, too, fell 8.7 per cent year-on-year, with the marine and offshore engineering segment falling by 10.5 per cent on the back of lower levels of rig building activities.  

Looking ahead, an economist said he expects manufacturing output to remain sluggish this year. Standard Chartered Singapore's head of ASEAN Economic Research, Mr Edward Lee, said the overall environment remains quite challenging, “in terms of (what) external demand is looking like at the moment”.

He added: “We do have some nice, favourable base effect coming in, at the end of the first and second half of the year. But that is really resting on the base effect. I think we really have to see stronger prints coming from the G3 (world's top three economies), and hopefully, the Chinese economy stabilises.

According to the Economic Development Board (EDB), the on-year performance indices for April 2015 are:

Chemicals: +3.9%
Electronics: +1.2%
Precision engineering: -2.1%
General manufacturing: -5.1%
Transport engineering: -8.7%
Biomedical manufacturing: -28.6%

On a 3-month moving average, manufacturing output fell by 5.9% on-year in April 2015.

"Monthly Manufacturing Performance, April 2015", EDB Press Release, 26 May 2015
"Singapore's manufacturing output down 8.7% year-on-year in April", Channel NewsAsia, 26 May 2015

5 Tips for Making Meetings Less Unproductive

Many of us attended so many unproductive meetings or meetings we don’t even know why we are there for. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid making meetings altogether because a successful business needs brainstorming, discussion and an open-dialog among others.

However, we can make meetings more effective. In order to increase efficiency and not to waste everyone’s time, below you can find 5 effective meeting tips.

1. Don’t Start Late: 

There are always some people who join the meetings 5 to 10 minutes late. Don’t wait for them to start your meeting. Starting late to a meeting is punishing others for being there on time. Therefore, always start right on time. You can do a recap for latecomers after a few items are discussed helping them to catch up.

2. Prepare an Agenda: 

Get prepared for your meeting and make an agenda with the objectives you want to go through. Email this agenda to your coworkers prior to the meeting so that they can also get prepared. Make sure your meeting objectives are clear and can be understood easily by others.

3. Ensure the Right Participation: 

Evaluate who you are going to invite to the meeting carefully. If you want your meeting to be effective, you have to invite the right people. Moreover, the number of attendees is an important factor determining the efficiency of a meeting. You have to find the optimum number for your meeting. Go through your list and ask yourself if that person is really needed to be present on the meeting.

4. Stay on Topic: 

If you want to finish all of your agenda, then, stay on your agenda. If someone tries to open another topic outside the agenda, politely remind him that it is not on the agenda and should be discussed at another time. However, if that topic turns out to be crucial in your business and needs to be resolved immediately, you may ask other attendees if they want to resolve it right away assuming all of the right people to address this new topic are present.

5. Document Your Meeting: 

Delegate someone the task of keeping meeting notes during the meeting. Close your meeting with an action plan recapping who is going to work on what. After the meeting, email these notes to all of the attendees stating who is assigned to which task. Make sure you send this email within 24 hours. Follow-up with these people after a few days to see their development.

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