Have you ever heard a speaker say, “Please hold your questions ’til the end?” I have, hundreds of times. Here’s why that’s a bad idea:
- People who have a burning question on their mind are distracted and unlikely to fully grasp whatever comes next. Their learning is now compromised.
- Unless people write their question down, they might forget what it was.
- When you ask your audience to be silent ’til the end, you create an unnatural relationship. In fact, you prevent a relationship from developing.
- You show that you are fearful of something. Losing track? Losing control? Running out of time? Not knowing the answer? Competent speakers have the tools to prevent these possibilities.
If you are lucky enough to get questions, you may have to “praise and limit.” You might say, “I’m delighted that you are so interested! I want to be sure I deliver what I promised, so I’ll take one more question now.”
Here is my final argument against “Hold your questions ’til the end.” Would you ask the same of a dining companion? “I thought you should know my lunch rule: I will do all the talking until the final five minutes. At that time, you can ask questions or offer your opinion.”
You’d be a very lonely diner indeed! Don’t be a lonely diner and don’t be a lonely speaker either.