Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Seth Godin on what makes a good question from the audience

Ever wonder why some people ask questions when you invite them from the group after your remarks are done, and others wait to gather around you at the end of your speech before posing their questions? Marketing and Internet thought leader Seth Godin shared an insight on those particular audience moments during a recent interview on On Being, a public radio program. Here's how his thoughts on questions emerged, from the interview transcript:
Ms. Tippett: I mean, one of the points you make about this new world we inhabit and the need and also the opportunity for each of us to be artists is that it's precisely when you are doing something that no one has done before that you are not going to get the loudest applause. Right? That you will not get picked. And that then requires us to develop some different kinds of internal resources. Right? I mean, how do we internally have faith in what we care about? 
Mr. Godin: Yeah. Exactly. And that's where the discernment comes. You know, so when I give a talk — at the end you'll say, are there any questions? And the only people who are raising their hand are raising their hand because they think they have a question the group wants to hear. They think that they have something to contribute. Now what's fascinating about it is five minutes after we're done, everyone has a question. Right? 
Ms. Tippett: Right. Right. Right. 
Mr. Godin: Because now it's safe to ask your question because you're not going to be judged on the question that you're going to ask. But the people who do ask a question have demonstrated to themselves that they have good enough judgment to be able to put something into the world that hasn't been said before. That's what makes it a good question. And that practice is something that we should learn and we should teach our kids, and we should teach our colleagues how to do it.
In the unedited interview, which doesn't come with a transcript, Godin touches on how we have discouraged women in particular from speaking up or speaking publicly. It's part of a discussion of themes in his latest book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

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