Phoenix Public Speaking coaching and workshops

Public Speaking Tip #53: The Most Engaging Question

Asking your audience a “by show of hands” question just might be the most engaging type of question you can ask and one of the most powerful tools you have available as a public speaker or business presenter.

Here are some of the reasons why “show of hands” questions are so engaging:

  • First, like all questions, the audience has to think about their answer (provided you word it correctly and pause to give audience members adequate time to think).
  • Second, the audience has to involve themselves physically (granted it’s not calisthenics, but there is some physical motion involved).
  • Third, it engages audience members with one another as they look around to see who has their hands up and who doesn’t. Ask a question like “by show o hands, how many parents do we have?” and you’ll see audience members form instant bonds with one another.

Watch Out for These Mistakes

“Show of hands” can be very engaging, but here are a few things to watch out for so your question doesn’t backfire:

  • First, make sure the question is worded clearly so audience members are crystal clear about how to respond.
  • Second, make sure you take the time to see how many hands are up and report the results to the audience with a comment. Think of the “by show of hands” question as a real-time poll. Like a poll, you’ll want to note the results, report the results back to the audience and analyze the findings. “Ah, I see about half of you are parents. That’s about typical for working people.”
  • Third, don’t rush it.  I’ve seen many presenters ask for a show of hands but then charge on with their presentation before they’ve even counted the results of their query. This leaves an audience feeling a bit cheated and audience members are left thinking: “He didn’t even take the time to look at my answer. I hadn’t even got my hand up yet and he moved on. I guess he didn’t really even care about the answer.”

If you’re going to ask the question, take the time to get the answer. You and your audience will be glad you did.

Here’s to engaging presentations!

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