5.6 Key ideas about exploiting questions

  • Questions to and from the audience are a key part of interactive presentations. But asking questions, dealing with responses and answering their questions all take considerable management when working with children. Also, you need to be even more sensitive with an individual than you do when interacting with the whole audience.


  • Ask questions strategically. Managing questions is time-consuming, so you need to plan and deploy them wisely at the best times. Hone your precise phrasing over time to reduce any misunderstandings.


  • Use a variety of question types. Most questions in a large-group presentation will be closed with short, factual answers, but try to mix these up with occasional open-ended enquiries.


  • Pose one question at a time. Sometimes, when we’re trying to catch up in a presentation, we merge questions or we don’t leave a long enough wait time for a response before the next one.


  • Vary your use of a “hands up” policy depending on the age of the audience and the phase of the presentation. The interactive approach recommended in this toolkit requires most audiences to have the freedom to make elicited responses and spontaneous call outs.


  • Be scrupulously fair in how you select learners to answer or ask questions. Make sure that you are seen to choose from across as wide a range of characteristics as possible, e.g. age, gender, race, ability.


  • Show that you care about their questions and their answers. Saying something in front of everyone is probably a big thing for them, so listen carefully to what they say and be respectful of their contribution.


  • Praise their answers warmly, but in an age-appropriate way. The younger the child, the more overt and emphatic you can be. Older children can resent being singled out for acclaim.


  • Deal with incorrect answers sensitively. This will soften any disappointment or embarrassment they might feel. But the older the audience and the more they trust you, the more robust you can afford to be in your corrections.


  • Learn how to turn the question tap on and off. It’s possible to take questions during the presentation for most ages, but you need to constantly adjust the flow rate of these questions so they don’t take over.


  • You don’t have to answer every question you are asked, e.g. you might defer a question because you’re going to come on to this issue later or because it is too specialised to answer during the presentation.


  • Answer as clearly and concisely as possible. Unfortunately, clarity and brevity are usually only possible with a prepared response from your bank of commonly-asked questions. Answering a question in front of an audience for the first time is high risk.


  • Never bluff it when you don’t know the answer.  If you’re worried that your reply might involve dangerous over-simplifications which could damage their future learning, it’s better not to attempt a response. Modelling how to deal honestly and confidently with ignorance could be the single most valuable lesson your presentation imparts.


Hook Your Audience (volume 1) Copyright © 2021 by HOOK training limited. All Rights Reserved.

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