Q&A etiquette.

Ok, whenever I do a Q&A, I always start by saying “Ok guys, remember it’s a question and answer section, and questions have a question mark.  Also, please try not to monologue since other people want to ask questions as well.  If you abuse the rules I’m going to cut you off.”

Most speakers don’t do this.  So the word needs to get out about how to not make the speaker and the rest of the audience silently loathe you.

1.  Questions have a question mark.

If you’re going to ask a question, ask a question.  This is not your time to lecture the audience.  Also don’t lecture the audience and then ask some weak, scarcely related question at the end in order to justify getting a hold of the microphone so you can grace the audience with your comment.  We know what you’re doing and it’s not clever.

2.  Wait to be recognized. 

If you just start speaking in a loud voice without being called on, it’s tantamount to cutting in line.  Nobody will believe that you’re just oblivious the fact that everybody else in the audience is raising their hand and waiting to be called on.  They’ll think you’re just being an asshole.

3. Keep it to one question.

If you don’t like the answer you get, tough.  Don’t start a ten-minute long debate when others are waiting to ask questions.  What you can do is hold your hand up again and then ask a follow up when others have had their chance.

There are always people in the audience who monopolize the Q&A over and over again in this way, and the audience always begins to groan when they get close to the mic.  Don’t be those people.

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