So you’ve just finished listening to a great presentation, and synapses are firing every which way in that juicy little brain of yours. You feel compelled to ask the speaker a question!

But should you?

Question, Discussion Point, or Opinion: A Guide to Talking

Hey friends! I was searching for a recipe in my dropbox folder and found this old gem. I made it after a couple of friends had a very unproductive Q&A after an important presentation at a tech conference because the panel mostly just wanted to hear themselves talk! I was really upset because the “questions” distracted from how cool their app was. (Also I was in unrequited love with one of them bla bla bla.) (Long story for another time.) (Flow chart is still valid.)

ANYWAYS, this was way back in grad school, which it turns out is a great place to hone your question-asking skills (and your question-answering skills)! If you’re paying attention, with enough exposure you start to recognize bad questions pretty quick.

In my experience, good thoughtful questions enhance the experience of both speaker and audience. Speaking is hard, and a lot of people get very nervous while presenting. You shouldn’t let that prevent you from asking hard questions, but with a little thoughtfulness, you can do that without being a jerk. Bad questions have the possibility to derail everything, and the point of asking your question should not be that!

Happy asking!