How do I start the question period when nobody asks a question?
This happens often because the speaker suddenly stops talking and says, “Are there any questions?”
The audience is caught unexpectedly because they had no time to prepare a question.
It takes both time and thought to ask a good question and most people don’t want to ask a dumb question. So it’s usually safer to wait for someone else to start the questions. There are three things the speaker can do to make this easier on the audience and solicit better questions.
1 Warn the audience about the upcoming question period. Tell them that you will answer questions in x minutes. Suggest that they write their questions down so they have them ready. Mention this at least two or three times.
2 Prompt the question period with a more focused question. “Are there any questions?” is too vague and doesn’t stimulate thought. That question simply confuses people. That is a classic dumb question because there are always questions. You want to uncover the questions. The way to do that is to ask a more specific question of your audience, “Who has the first question?” or “Who has a question about this topic?” or “Who has a questions about the process?”
3 So you’ve asked the audience for their questions, waited a few seconds and nothing happens. You might be feeling lonely so here’s the next step for you. Say, “A question I’m often asked is…” State the question, pause, and then answer it. This can help start the question period by priming the pump. Somebody needs to ask the first question to get things started and the audience doesn’t care who started the questions.