Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How to encourage questions

How often have you been there when the speaker finishes a formal presentation, invites questions and then stares out at the audience ... and the audience stares back. By the time whatever energy generated in the presentation has waned, someone blurts out a question that is overly simple, irrelevant or both.

A solution is to plant one or two questions. Most people are reluctant to be first to speak up, but once an audience member has broken the ice, more questions generally follow.

Note that I’m not talking about lobbing "softballs,” questions designed to elicit easy, self-serving answers. You may even want to plant a challenging question so you can deal with an issue up front.

Preparation is key in achieving an effective presentation and it should include the Q&A dialogue.


Are there space aliens?

The age-old question was once again in the news when astronomers discovered a planet similar in size to earth, with a similar mild climate. But there’s no evidence of pollution, disease or destruction, so they don’t think it harbors intelligent life.


For more basics, see Writing for the Ear - a Primer in the left-hand column.

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