I knew I was in trouble as soon as he blurted out “this is probably a really dumb question but…”
I listened intently as he spoke and when he was done, I smiled as I replied, “that is a really great question”.
As a presenter, I hope the questions I am asked will be intellectually stimulating, challenging, and an opportunity for me demonstrate my credibility. This question was none of those.
In truth – it was a great question. What made it great was the fact that he was asking something that he did not know the answer. He was seeking to educate himself and to learn. This is the reason I speak – to help people see things in a new way and to help them discover new truths.
I watched his face light up as I affirmed the quality of his question. He listened carefully to my answer and from there; the conversation progressed down a related path. The audience appreciated the response as well. They knew they were safe asking a question without fear of belittlement. They saw the kindness offered by the presenter and the excitement I had as I gave the answer.
The response demonstrated that as speaker, I saw the audience as my equal. I did not feel superior to them, I welcomed their questions and inquiries and I was intent on helping them.
In truth, it was a pretty general question. The kind I get all the time. Yet I am so grateful he asked.
The next time you get a question that seems basic; perhaps even ridiculously simply, remember to answer it well. Take time to listen carefully to the question and be clear that you appreciate the question, even if it seems to be a very simple one. Be gracious and excited if not for the question itself, then for the opportunity to help a member of your audience. The manner in which you answer will speak volumes about the type of person you are.
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- Preparing for the End (ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com)