Many speakers allow their listeners to ask them questions, but not many ask questions of the audience. Ellen Finklestein of ellenfinklestein.com writes an excellent article about asking questions of your audience. I will let you read her article for yourself.
At the end of her article she says it is important to plan your questions carefully. My words exactly! Here is how I plan for my questions.
- Write simple questions, no more than 7 words per question.
- Ask a series of two to three questions that are progressive, meaning one question leads to the next question.
- Make your first question or two, close ended. By a show of hands, how many of you _____?
- Then ask an open ended question to invite your audience to respond to you. What has your experience with ___ been?
I ask my questions in this manner for two reasons. First, I want to give my audience time to warm-up to responding to me. They don’t always know it is OK to speak up in a group. Second, it gives me time to relax into being with them. As they talk with me, I establish a warm connection. We are just talking together.
In the first few years that I spoke in front of groups, this was the first technique I created to help me deal with my anxiety. It’s agood one!