There Is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question
Written By: Jaysa Toet
July 27, 2017
Asking a question is a great way to get further involved in a dialogue. As an attendee, moderator, and speaker I’ve seen many different types of questions asked over the years. Some have broadened my own experience at the event while others have made me face palm. Some people would rather die than ask a question publicly at an event, keynote or conference but asking a question has benefits and will get you noticed in one way or another.
Before you step up to the mic, here are my top tips on ways to make sure you ask a great question:
- Comments are not questions. Make sure your question is actually a question not just a thought or comment. Nothing is more embarrassing than confusing the moderator or speaker, forcing them to ask you… “Sorry, what was your question?”
- Ensure your question is appropriate and related to the topic. It will be more effective and well received if it is meaningfully related to the topic being spoken about.
- Phrase your question concisely and limit yourself to one question. You have limited time and to get the best possible answer, the person responding needs to have a clear understanding of what you are asking.
- Plan or even write down your question to ensure you say what you want to say and that don’t start rambling. Run your question by someone with you to see if it sounds okay and if you’re nervous, there is also no harm in getting someone to ask your question for you.
- Ensure you are not emotionally charged. Asking a question while angry or upset about a topic could be a recipe for disaster.
- Determine whether your question is best asked in this context. Sometimes it is easier and more effective to catch a speaker one on one.
- If appropriate, introduce yourself. Asking a question is a two-minute opportunity to leave an impression on the people at the event but it should not be about making you look good or showing your knowledge.
Finally, when you’re ready, get up there or raise your hand quickly since the opportunity to ask a question could pass. Don’t be nervous, you’ve got this!
Jaysa Toet is a Partner at Acuity HR Solutions. For more content and blogs from the Acuity team visit our website (www.acuityhr.ca) and follow us on Instagram and Facebook!