You may want to ask close ended or hypothetical questions at the beginning of your speech. With close ended questions you’re qualifying the audience and setting a direction for the speech. With a hypothetical question you are setting the audience up for a possible solution, at the end of your speech.
If you fail to engage your audience you will only be speaking to yourself.
Throughout the speech you need to reinforce your points. You do this by asking the right questions throughout your speech. Some examples of what I like to call reinforcing questions are:
- Do you know what I mean?
- Have you ever felt like that before?
- Have you ever been in a situation like that before?
When you ask reinforcing questions, you engage the audience and bring them back to the point that you just made. Reinforcing questions help your audience reflect on the point you just made in your speech.
Say for example, you have a few people that don’t understand the last point you spoke on. If you don’t ask any questions during your speech, you will never know if people understand your points.
When asking reinforcing questions, you may discover that some people didn’t quite get the last point you spoke on. And instead of ignoring them, you now have the ability to go back and reinforce your point, so that it is crystal clear.
Asking questions after the speech is a common practice. But unless you’re a superstar or celebrity, you’re ability to keep your audience engaged, for 20 minutes or longer is difficult to do, without asking questions. If you’ve been talking for over 20 minutes and you haven’t asked a single question of the audience, you’ve lost them. Asking questions throughout the speech helps you engage the audience, it creates a meaningful dialogue and shows you care about them.
When you do finish up your speech, you don’t have to ask the dreaded “Are there any questions?” question. But when you can do is toss the speech back at the audience with a reinforcing question. Finish your speech by empowering the audience to continue the conversation with each other. Asking the right questions before, during and after a speech is a powerful way to engage your audience.