How To Answer The Tough Questions Before They Are Asked Of You.
Updated: Jan 28
“What you resist, persists.” - Carl Jung
Business is full of inevitable “bumps-in-the-road.” It's part of growth. Unfortunately, though, most of us hope the glitzy pitch deck or killer product is enough to distract the audience away from these tough questions.
But, even the greatest presentation won’t prepare you for:
An investor asking for your revenue projections
A journalist asking about the departure of a former CEO
A board member disagreeing with the Go-To-Market strategy
The Advisory Board opposing the patient engagement philosophy
A new hire questioning the culture you’ve built
Current client concerns surrounding a product change
Carl Jung, a pioneer in modern psychology, was onto something brilliant. The questions will come and if you aren’t prepared, you’ll be left apprehensive and helpless. Resistance is never the solution.
Building a communication strategy around your challenges is the best way to prepare for the questions, reduce anxiety before a meeting and even develop creative solutions.
Do this with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.
What is an FAQ document?
A guide to answering your toughest inquiries, the FAQ is a collection of the questions your stakeholders will inevitably ask, coupled with the strategic language to answer them. Vetted and approved internally, these answers not only provide information to your stakeholders, they uniquely frame the challenges as solutions - encouraging collaboration and trust.
Why you need it NOW:
Your company’s success is in the hands of the individuals around you - how they interact, promote and value your product. As these investors, board members, clients, influencers, and more, engage with your organization, they will have questions. And the last thing you want is to get stuck, stumbling through an answer you could have prepared for.
If you are not willing to answer the tough questions before you try to market yourself or fundraise, you WON’T be able to answer them when the stakes are even higher. Anxiety will build. Trust will break and it will be nearly impossible to create products that meet the exact needs of your audience…
So, no matter what stage your company is in, an FAQ will:
Engage your audience, allowing you to appreciate their pain points
Uncover gaps in your go-to-market strategy or business approach
Illuminate how to message the challenge and your designed solution
Build consistent language, which can later be applied to your strategy
Not all questions will be relevant for all audiences - but this versatile tool will prepare you.
How to write a FAQ?
We’ve made the case for the strategic FAQ. However, sourcing the questions and crafting the answers can take time and that’s why we’ve built a system to do both. When identifying the questions, we recommend following the 4 steps outlined below, in the order they are listed. The process for crafting the answers is a bit more flexible, and should follow the 3 key principles of branded language, trifecta and consensus. Once you’ve identified the questions and crafted the answers, check out the Apply section - at the end - which pulls it all together.
Identify the Questions: 4 Easy Steps
1. Gather Information - The first step is to gather relevant information pertaining to:
The challenging part of growth
Rejections from investors
2. Formulate Questions - Next, massage these notes into statements and then into questions. Think critically about your assumptions and consider this information from the perspective of the many audiences you engage with. Compile the top 20-30 questions.
3. Categorize - Sort the questions according to what is most relevant to you. Here are our 6 favorites: product, user experience, go-to-market strategy, results/validation, financing, and team. Customize this list according to your needs.
4. Collaborate - Circulate this organized list internally to capture any questions you’ve missed.
To help you through the question identification process, be sure to check out our FREE guide available for download here.
Answer the Questions: 3 Guiding Principles:
1. Branded Language - Ensure your language aligns with company-wide messaging and the vision of your organization. Be sure to reference previously created messaging strategies to ensure that business objectives, lessons learned and future growth initiatives are included.
2. Trifecta - Choose language which aligns with the Trifecta principles of Honesty, Integrity and Discretion. This framework helps balance the need for honesty with excitement for the future.
Honesty - Always be truthful
Integrity - Keep your word
Discretion - Choose what, when and how to share (this requires practice)
3. Consensus - Circulate these answers amongst leadership, or top decision makers, to gather feedback, build consensus, and ensure the language aligns with the vision, tone and culture of the organization.
Now that you've mapped out the questions and answers, it's time to apply. The FAQ will have two main applications: Strategic reference guide & supportive internal tool:
Reference Guide: Communication tactics include website, pitch decks, one pager, emails, conference presentations and more. These varying touch points benefit greatly from a transparent approach to problem solving - a key element of the FAQ.
Supportive Internal Tool: Every employee has the responsibility of sharing the company vision and the opportunity to drive its success. Provide your team with this document and encourage familiarity with the language needed to reposition a challenge into a growth initiative.
The power of the FAQ lies in its ability to REMOVE INTIMIDATION. So, don't avoid the tough questions. Confront them - answer them - prepare for them.