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Why No One Says Anything When You Ask “Are There Any Questions?”


Wed Jun 28 2023

Why No One Says Anything When You Ask “Are There Any Questions?”

Are there any questions?

You may have said it yourself or had the question posed to you. And in either instance, you experienced the silence. You felt the awkward pause. As the speaker, you think, “I just gave a killer presentation, and y’all don’t have any questions?!” Or, as an audience member, you look around, wondering if someone — _any_one — will speak up and stop the pain!


First, let’s get to the why. Why in the world does this happen?! Here are three reasons:

1. That’s not really what you want to know. As a speaker, you want to know if what you said resonated. You want to know if you changed their thinking. If they will do anything differently. If they fully understood the presentation and are feeling inspired.

2. The question stinks. It’s boring. It’s expected. It’s nothing new. It’s lazy, especially if used to end the presentation. But speakers don’t know what else to ask and just keep doing what has always been done. Everyone has heard the question a million times, so it has gotten to a point where people usually sit quietly, waiting for someone else to do the work necessary to answer the question.

3. The question is too hard to answer. If expected to provide an answer to that query, audience members must silently and quickly do any combination of the following:

  • Think back to the presentation’s specifics.

  • Recall what about that piece of content was unclear or concerning.

  • Form the query.

  • Mimic the speaker’s jargon or specialized wording.

  • Assess if it’s the “right” question. If not, revise.

  • Determine if the query is worthy enough to verbalize and put into the universe.

That’s work!


Stop asking “Are there any questions?” Instead …

Get them excited about your content, and ask …

  • “What do you like about X?”

  • “\[Based on what I just presented\], what can you not wait to do/try? Explain.”

Get them to change a current behavior, and ask …

  • “Based on Y, what will you do differently?”

  • “What will you say differently?”

Get them to take the information you provided and apply it to a specific area of their businesses, professions, or interests, and ask …

  • “How do you see yourself using Z? List three instances.”

  • “How will this improve/positively affect A, B, or C?”

Get them to think big picture or plan for the future, and ask …

  • “What does this information mean for X?

  • “Out of these features/products, which one will you use? Why?”

Ask any of these at any point in your presentation or as a great way to end your presentation.

And as you work to formulate better questions, avoid asking questions such as “What do you not like about X?” or “What is the worst part of Y?” These types of questions work well if you want to take the temperature of the room early in your presentation and create an awareness of a problem for which your presentation will provide solutions. But remember, you want to guard against anything that may fuel negativity.

You’ve got this!

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