Presentation Tip #1: Always Ask “Real” Questions
Every speaker on every stage cheats on this! The presenter may ask “How is everyone feeling today?” but he/she has no interest in REALLY hearing the answer. You know it by the tone of their voice. Are you engaged? No. Probably the reverse. Why? It was just an opening line. Or, you may hear a manager say “If we implement these changes, can we expect to see an improvement?” Are you paying close attention at this point? No. You’ve heard it before. What a missed opportunity! That very speaker really wants to “talk” to you and is hoping you listen closely, but they in effect “lost you” instead.
Here’s what we know…..Too many speakers throw out a “question” to their audience but don’t realize that they have a downward inflection when they pose that question. That “down drop” makes it sound like they either already know the answer or don’t care whether anyone gives them a response. There, right there, the speaker blew a chance to engage with the audience, colleague, customer or client.
What’s the remedy? What’s the “thing” you can practice and nail? How do you keep your listener engaged?
ANSWER: Ask your question as if you really want an answer!
It takes a bit of practice, but the hardest trick is just remembering to do it. First, take your inflection up at the end of the question. Not down. Second, take a slight pause after you’ve asked the question, as if you have a sincere expectation that someone’s hand will actually shoot up to give you the answer you’re looking for. And third, be prepared to answer your own question. The “ready to respond” in your head will change your entire inflection. And your audience will hear it.
One could argue that every question is real, but we want you to focus on making it SOUND REAL. You can practice. Don’t slip and get lazy! It’s all about an intention and ultimately a habit. Real questions, questions you pose as if you truly care about the answer or could answer it yourself, tell the audience that you’re prepared, invested in them, and interested in engaging your listener. It’s what leaders do well.