In this Presentation Quick Tip #7 video, you’ll learn three tips when using a question to start a presentation. Beginning a presentation with a question is a great idea, as my buddy Jonathan Li recommends. However, you need to be aware of what may happen when you open your presentation with a question. So what you’ll learn is what can happen and what to do.
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Video length 1:17 (Click CC for captions or read transcript below)


Here’s the thing

There are so many ways to start a presentation. Asking a question is one of the most tried and true methods. However, presenters, especially less-experienced ones, have to be careful because asking a question may not always get you the result you want.

I’ve seen this many times…

The presenter comes up all ready to go. Slides look nice, the presenter looks fairly confident and the audience is sitting in anticipation. Then the speaker asks a question that he or she has rehearsed and looks out to the audience expecting an answer.

Disaster and panic

Or is that panic and disaster? Either way, what happens next is the audience sits there completely silent. Awkwardness ensues and the speaker asks again. More often than not, our presenter is now frazzled by the experience and is unsure what to do. He or she was going to use the audience’s response to segue into the presentation, but the only thing he or she is thinking about is, “Oh crap, now what!?”

Why it happens

Sometimes, people just simply don’t know the answer. This can be a good thing because you now have their attention. Sometimes, people are just too shy to answer. This happens a lot in Asian cultures. But something more evil is when people don’t want to answer just to see you squirm and get uncomfortable. This can happen if you are being evaluated, like in a sales or investment pitch or if you’re speaking to classmates who want to see you get embarrassed. Nasty.

Have no fear, the answer is here

Sorry about the cheesy rhyme. Anyway, to avoid feeling like the temperature suddenly shot up and worrying that your face is now beet red, here are three things to do when using a question to start a presentation…

1. Ask a question, but don’t wait too long for an answer

In this case, you can give the answer because people may not know or don’t want to answer. Either way, you’re not wasting time waiting and it can be an effective way to keep the audience’s attention. This works especially well when you are sure they will not know the answer.

2. Ask questions, then ask specific people to answer them

Instead of waiting, just motion or point to someone to answer. This also saves time and it also gets the audience involved. If the first person you ask doesn’t know, ask someone else. If nobody knows, great! You have their attention and can now teach them something new.

3. Ask rhetorical questions, questions that make a point and don’t need an answer

I like these because they are a great way to get your audience to agree with something you want to say. You can even ask them to raise their hands to say whether they agree or not. One sneaky trick is to use a tag question, something like, “It’s nice out, isn’t it?” because they always have to agree with what comes before the question. Like I said, sneaky, isn’t it? 🙂

So there you go. Now you know what to do when starting a presentation with a question.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.






Bet you thought I was Bruce Lee!

Hi, it’s Carl Kwan here and this is Presentation Quick Tip #7.

Now, it’s a really good idea to begin your presentations with a question, as my buddy Jonathan Li in Hong Kong recommended.

Now, one thing, though, you do have to be careful of is that sometimes people will not answer because either they don’t want to, or because they really don’t know the answer.

So there are three things you should do when asking questions.

Number one, ask the question but don’t wait too long for an answer.

Number two, ask the question and then point to someone specifically to answer the question for you.

And finally number three, ask a rhetorical question, a question that people already know the answer to.

Then that way, you’re not wasting time waiting for people to answer your question, in case they really don’t know or they’re not being very nice and don’t want to answer.

So make sure you do use a question to start your presentations, that’s very good, but also be mindful of those three things.

That is Presentation Quick Tip #7.

If you have any questions about this one, please leave them below this video.

Thanks for watching.

Talk to you again soon.