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You know that thing where you’re talking to a group of people and you ask them a question and no one answers?
And you wait a few more seconds, awkwardly, and nothing happens?
It’s one of those funny little problems faced by a lot of teachers, coaches, speakers, ministers, pretty much anyone who speaks in front of groups: The speaker says something, hoping for a response from students or an audience, and what they most often get back are a couple of weak smiles, a grunt or two, and not much more. Basically, 蟋蟀.
It’s mildly uncomfortable for everyone, both the speaker and the audience, but thankfully, the moment passes quickly and it’s no big deal.
Still, it’s a fixable problem.
Why It Happens
Getting the silent treatment from a group you’re speaking to happens most of the time for one basic reason: People don’t want to look stupid. Within that broad umbrella of not wanting to look dumb, here are some more specific possible causes of your cricket problem:
- They know you’re not just talking to them.
如果你问一群人，“How’s everybody doing?”他们很少会回答，因为它’与您独自一人在一起不一样。一对一地，您问一个人这个问题，他们可以为您提供有关事情进展的详细信息，但是在一个小组中，这个问题或多或少是口头上的。一些外向的人可能喃喃自语“good” or “great,”但没有人会认真回答你。一个例外是如果您’在某种体育场情况下与成千上万的人交谈。这样的话’这是一笔大买卖，因为您已经走上舞台，人群已经很疯狂了，所以继续提出您的问题。
- They think everyone else gets it.
- You’re asking for too much.
Some questions are too hard to answer on the spot. For example, if you ask,“什么是你最喜欢的 song?”some people will rack their brains trying to think of a song they like more than any other, THE song that totally defines them as a person. But if you just ask them to think of a song they really like, that’s much easier.
- Someone in the room is intimidating (and it might be you).
- They don’t know what the heck you’re talking about.
It could be that your audience is just really confused. This is where it helps to be a 好 judge of facial expressions: If people in an audience are confused, many of them will show it right on their faces, but if you’re not generally 好 at noticing that kind of thing, it could help to have a colleague come in and observe.
More Effective Ways to Increase Audience Participation
Here are some better ways to get your students—or your audience if you’re speaking outside of a classroom—to participate more.
1. Explain what kind of response you want.
有时候，当您问一个问题时，听众会因为他们没有’确保您想要哪种响应（如果有）。因此，您对期望的要求越具体，他们越能给您想要的东西。例如，您可以说，“In a minute, I’我要问一个问题。我要你首先要做的是静静地思考你的答案。然后我’我要请三位志愿者与小组分享他们的答案。”这样的具体说明将使您的听众更加放心，他们’ll be more likely to give you 好 responses.
2. Ask for a show of hands.
As long as you’re asking about something people won’t be embarrassed to admit and that at least some people in your audience will probably say“yes”to, this is a way to start a conversation. So rather than say,“How was everyone’s weekend?” you could say, “How many people watched a sporting event this weekend?”From there, you can go to one of the people who raised their hands, ask them what they watched, and you’re off and running.
3. Ask one person a direct question.
我们较早地确定听众中的每个人都认识你’不只是和他们说话，所以当您向房间提出问题时，每个人都会’可能会引起人们的关注。但是，如果您直接去找一个人问他们一个问题，他们必须做出回应。所以不用说“您如何看待我们昨天看的那部电影？”，去第三排的孩子说，“嗨，保利，您对那部电影有何看法？”现在，宝莉可能会不理会这个问题，或者说，“It was alright,”因此，如果您想获得更好的响应，请尝试类似的方法，“告诉我有关那部电影给您留下深刻印象的事。”
4. Have everyone write down a response first.
当您向一个小组提问时，通常只有一两个人会回答。这剥夺了其他所有人回答的机会。如果在同一组中反复发生这种情况，许多参与者将赢得’甚至不用考虑自己的反应，因为他们’我会知道其中一个比较健谈的人将要回答。解决此问题的一种方法是让每个人首先写下对问题的答复，然后召集一些人分享他们所写的内容。这样，即使房间只听到一些回应，每个人实际上都在思考并回答了问题。当您给每个人这样的时间来处理时，您’与您只是问房间冷的情况相比，可能会吸引更多不同的志愿者；那’之所以如此，是因为有些学生需要更多的处理时间，才有足够的信心来分享自己的想法。在他们的书中 Total Participation Techniques (see the end of this post), Persida and William Himmele tackle this problem with dozens of strategies that get every student in the room participating.
5. Do a 思维对份额.
与其让每个人都写一个答案，不如让他们求助于对方并做出回应。这对于内容丰富，内容繁多的问题很有用，在这些问题中参与者正在处理他们’我已经学过了，或者只是基本的会话性。尝试一下：下次’re about to say “How’s everyone doing?”相反，告诉他们转而寻求合作伙伴并回答相同的问题。如果房间里有人在胡扯一天，这可能是他们第一个机会’我必须与某人实际分享，因此可能会感觉好一些。
6. Do a better check for understanding.
If you regularly ask“Is that clear?” or “Does everyone understand?”you probably already know that this doesn’t always tell you who needs more help. Instead, give participants tools to let you know when they are confused: You could ask everyone to give you a thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal to indicate whether they’re getting what you’re saying or hold up colored response cards that can serve as answers to a multiple-choice question. Finally, as we mentioned in a previous post called Let’s Give Our Teaching Language a Makeover, simply switching from“Are there any questions?” to “What questions do you have?”tends to get many more people to actually ask questions.
Bottom line: If you feel like you’re doing all the talking up there, and you want to get more from the people listening to you, you might just need to make a few small changes to your delivery to turn a one-way lecture to a much better conversation.
Persida and William Himmele have established themselves as experts in getting all students to participate in class. Their book, Total Participation Techniques, offers 51 alternatives to traditional“stand and deliver”teaching, many of which will be useful to any speaker in any setting.