This is going to be very fast and dirty: I want people to remember it, after all. It’s also not thoroughly researched, but then I’m merely repeating stuff that I think works, and that I’ve seen work in the past. Follow the advice, or do not.
Four tips for asking a question at a Q&A session.
- You are entitled to ask a question. Many people act as if they somehow need permission to speak, which is why they are apologetic, take too long to get to the point, and stammer. You are allowed to speak in public.
- Only ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. If you already know the answer, then you’re trying to either trip up the person you’re asking the question to, or give him/her a softball. In politics, the first skill you get good at is deflecting trip-up questions, because everybody tries to spring one on you. As for softballs… well, go ahead, but there were people behind you who might have wanted a real answer to a real question.
- KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). If your question is more than fifteen to twenty seconds, it is too long. Eliminate everything that isn’t the question, for a start – particularly the part where you try to describe the problem that spawned the question. Then eliminate all of the sub-questions that got attached to the question. Then look at it again and pare it down some more. Politicians hate simple questions, and love complicated ones. So go with simple.
- Read your question to somebody else. Get an honest opinion. Heed the honest opinion. I find it amazing how few people do this.
Hope this helps!