Asking Questions, What’s
I was watching a motivational
speaker do a session about finances. This speaker
was a little too hyper for my taste, but he did do a
good job of keeping my attention. He was loud, he
was fast, and he was big on the stage. Every time he
made a point, he’d hold his right hand straight up
in the air, and he’d ask, “True, or true?” He’d then
move over to his next point immediately.
In this particular case, he
was clearly asking the question rhetorically, and
his audience recognized that. It was a presentation
tactic, because he really gave his audience no way
to disagree, so this was just a little quirk that he
included in his presentation, to make himself a
little different from the rest of the speakers, and
I must say it worked. I remembered him, and I’m
writing about him right now.
However, I’ve seen too many
speakers pose questions to their audience, and
really give no chance for the audience to respond to
the question, or, if the audience does get a chance
to respond, there’s nothing done with that response
Let’s explore a few tips to
help you be more effective at engaging your audience
when asking questions.
First, only ask a question if
you know the answer, or if an unexpected answer
won’t disrupt your presentation. The next item,
point #90, provides a great explanation for this.
Second, make sure your
audience knows how to give you the answer. Give
clear instructions, in order to avoid confusion. For
example, asking, “Have you ever had to stand on your
head?” doesn’t provide clear instructions on giving
a response. Instead, if you give the audience this
task, “Put your hand up if you’ve ever had to stand
on your head,” it provides clear instructions on
what’s expected as a response. Hands will either go
up, or they won’t, and either way, you’ve been
provided with a response.
Third, have a reason for
asking for a response, and do something with the
response. You could say, “Put your hand up if you’ve
ever had to stand on your head.” And then, you could
follow that up with, “I see that less than half the
room has ever had to stand on their head. This shows
that…” In this way, you’ve asked the audience for
information, and your audience now knows why you
wanted that information. They know the reason they
either raised their hands or not.
So, what’s the lesson? Ask
questions of your audience only if you have good
reason to, and explain what that reason is, but also
give clear instructions on how they’re to respond.