How to ask questions to your audience?

Nina Dušić Hren Public speaking
Tečaji nastopanja Dober stik z Nino Dušić Hren

It’s great to establish a connection with an audience through questions. This way we show them that we care. That we’re there because of them and that we’re interested in their premises. Similar occurs in pairs, at networking events. If we’re approached by someone who immediately begins speaking about themselves (or even worse – of their services and business), we don’t get a good first impression. Most of them would much rather ask a question and return a question. Same “unwritten law” also applies on stage.

The question we ask could be rhetorical, while we could also wait for an answer. When asking questions, it is crucial to explain to the audience how they’re supposed to answer. An example: “Can all of you who are familiar with Dober stik raise their arm?” The audience was given clear instructions and will gladly respond. If, however, I was to use a different approach: “Who is familiar with Dober stik?” listeners would look at me, some would nod, others would raise their arms. Others would out loud respond: “Me”. Due to unclear instructions, your interaction could be unsuccessful. You might get the impression that you’re not doing well. When the only real issue was failing to provide instructions on how they should respond. You could also ask them to nod, stand up, or clap.

Interaction brings many benefits. When used it “wakes” the audience as you invite them to respond. Engaged users therefore find it easier to keep track and most of all, tend to learn easier. If listeners are left sitting passively, they won’t even remember half of information they normally would.

The questions however are useful for the speaker too. In case everyone raises their arms, I invite them to share their experiences with me. If needed, I then complete their answers. If I discover that audience is not yet familiar with a topic, I start with basics and from the scratch. In the end, it is the presenter’s ability to adapt that is most significant.

You should therefore ask your audience about what you want to know. Show genuine interest. Establishing a good connection brings great results. It offers a sense of audience’s understanding and makes it easier for you to adapt. At the same time, it helps you leave an impression of an exceptional speaker who didn’t speak just about themselves.

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