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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:

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.

Recommended Reading


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.

Come back for more.
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  1. Frank Lyman says:

    是的,课堂讨论不应该成为危险的版本。所有回应都应首先在头脑中进行处理/演练。认为时间是所有对话的必要条件。我还要补充一点,可以教会学生识别所问问题的类型,并且老师可以将问题转化为回答问题所需的基本思维动作。当被要求分析,总结,比较,假设,评估,概括时,学生需要对他们的思维如何回答问题有一种元认知的意识。否则,长久的沉默和糟糕的答案将继续。一旦学生理解并可以使用七种思维方式,他们不仅可以更有效地回答问题,还可以提出自己的问题并进行自己的讨论。我指的是ThinkTrix类型。作为Think Pair Share的发起者,我可以说ThinkTrix的元认知同盟对于包容性讨论至关重要。您可以在Kagan ThinkTrix出版的书中看到有关类型学及其用途的更多信息:教授7种基本思维技能的工具…话虽如此,我认为您对本部分教师的建议是他们需要知道的。如果他们不这样做’注意您所写的内容,有些会更早地离开专业。弗兰克·莱曼

    • Great stuff! There’s also a classic study on wait time. It showed that after asking a class a question, most of us wait less than a second. Increasing that to 5 seconds increases hands raised, questions posed without prompting, etc. Thanks for your wonderful blog. Roben Torosyan, Bridgewater State University (Mass.)

      • Kelly Overby Byrd says:

        I think that“wait time”is challenging for most teachers…myself included. Students do need that time to process their thoughts, and we will have much more productive discourse in our classrooms if we give them that 3-5 seconds. It has been challenging over the past few months teaching synchronously via Zoom. The“raise hand”button is helpful, but I cannot always see all students in one screen.

  2. Dennis Ryan says:

    One of my school requirements is that all students participate. Technology has solved that problem for me. There are several programs that allow for student participation, some are games others are straight forward question-answer solutions.

    我使用PearDeck的原因有很多。 (我没有从PearDeck获得任何好处。)此Google插件允许我在幻灯片演示文稿的任何位置插入问题幻灯片。每个学生都必须做出回应。我可以在台式机或笔记本电脑上看到所有回复(带有学生姓名)。我可以选择任意数量的答案,并使用视频投影仪进行投影—这些答案没有学生姓名。这有助于进行关于选择最佳组件以达到最佳效果的课堂讨论。“best”回答。这也是带进来的好时机“think-pair-share” collaboration to arrive at a 最好 answer and provide justification. This also gives me a 好 idea of where the students are in the learning process.
    Another feature that I use frequently with low-stakes formative assessments is to collect the individual PearDeck answers and download them into a spreadsheet. I merge the spreadsheet with a mail merge and provide each student with an email that 1) gives the question, 2) gives the student answer, 3) provides the student a score and 最好 of all 4) provides the student with the components that are expected with a fully correct answer. This feedback allows each student to see what they need to do the give a better answer —每个人的元认知。总结性评估中使用了许多形成性评估问题—当然更高的赌注。

    • Katrice Quitter says:

      Thank you for sharing a solution that you’ve found to work for your students in the classroom!

  3. I loved you when said maybe someone in the class in intimidating and it might be you! Also, I think what you said about they might think everyone else gets it and be afraid to speak up and express that they don’t. Great suggestion for how to overcome the 蟋蟀!

  4. Melissa Jackson says:

    Seriously great information for teachers, coaches or anyone who speaks to groups of any size, all in a short podcast. I’ve changed my thumbs up/thumbs down to thumbs up for“I understand”and thumbs sideways for“I kind of get it”….even if they really don’t kind of get it, it seems to be less insulting and still tells me what I need to know.

    • I agree that this was great information for teachers! I am a Kindergarten teacher and I also use the “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” method! Your idea to change it to thumbs up for “I understand”and thumbs sideways for“I kind of get it” is really great! This new method will definitely benefit the students in my classroom! Great idea!

  5. Ashlie says:

    As a new teacher, I’ve found myself in this“crickets”situation a few times now. I really resonnate with the point you made about students not wanting to look stupid. I’ve noticed in working with young people that they often know what I am asking for, but the fear of being wrong keeps them from answering. I’ve started using the“write it down before” method along with a 思维对份额 to help get students more confident in their answer. This has been very helpful and I find it gets more students talking and engaged.

  6. McKenzi Christensen says:


    • Jessica Johnson says:

      I can remember in classrooms where I felt uncomfortable or judged, not answering because I didn’t want to be wrong. I always flash back to the scene in Willy Wonka (the original, not that Johnny Depp trash) when the math teacher is helping the students with the chocolate math and Charlie says he only had one chocolate bar. I never wanted to feel like that!

  7. Raegan Bolger says:

    This was very insightful for me. I have an unhealthy fear of awkward silences, and because of that, I often end up answering my own question before even giving a chance for it to be answered. Knowing some of the key reasons the 蟋蟀 happen helps me assess the way I ask questions, and encourages me to implement these things to create more participation. Giving a few minutes to write down thoughts or an answer seems so practical and helpful. This allows the audience to truly think, rather than depending on someone else answering.

  8. Ashlyn M Thompson says:


    • 我的故事和你相似。我从10月开始第一年的教学。我之前的老师决定退休。她没有’t teach these students anything. I went into a kindergarten class full of scared little kiddos. I left a kindergarten interim position to take this job. I assumed that my new class would be on or around the same level as the students I left. They were not. I quickly found out that these students had no experience of whole group, sitting on the carpet, and sharing ideas. So when I would read a story and ask questions, the room was full of 蟋蟀. Once the shyness went away, and the students were not intimidated by me, the answers started flowing.

  9. Lakiera Christian says:

    This article was amazing. I often reflect back on teachers or professors I had in the past and how I felt after a lesson. This article provided great tips and strategies on how to get students to comfortably share if they understand the lesson or not. It’s a great way to get students comfortable with expressing themselves. I know for me, I never felt comfortable asking teachers to reexplain information. I want to be that teacher where students are comfortable enough to say I do not understand, can you explain it again.

  10. Brooke Presley says:

    我真的很喜欢这篇文章,因为我’ve definitely experienced the 蟋蟀 while sitting in lectures in college. During my student teaching I’ve never experienced the 蟋蟀, but I really wish I never have to. The strategies you listed like explaining the type of response that you want and writing down a response first. Being specific when teaching is such an important tool to have in our utility belt of teaching. This is so helpful when asking questions and plan on using this in future teachings! I also love the writing the response down first strategy because it allows for people to be involved and not feel pressured to answer the question perfectly (which is how I feel consistently when asked questions). I truly love this article and the added podcast portion of it as well!

  11. 这篇文章非常有益和有益。我将在课堂上使用很多策略。我喜欢通过更改问题的措辞显示的方式可以使您获得更好的答复。特别是,而不是问“什么是你最喜欢的” to “你喜欢什么”。我知道当我被问到我最喜欢的东西时,我会思考并花太多时间。当我想到我的答案时,演讲者正在讨论其他问题。总的来说,我非常喜欢这篇文章。我反抗计划在课堂内外使用这些想法!

  12. Jordan Ney says:

    I listed to the podcast version of this blogpost and it was wonderful! I loved learning more about the“cricket problem”because this is an occurrence I have had in my classroom in the past. I really liked the idea about having the students write down their response to a question.

  13. Justin Walley says:


  14. Allison Wood says:

    我真的很喜欢这篇文章以及所有共享的策略。作为一名教育工作者,我认为我们都经历过“crickets”at least once. Think Pair Share is one of my favorite strategies to use. Sometimes students are more likely to share ideas with their peers. One strategy I would like to use more is the written responses. I can see how it can help those introverted students. If they can get their ideas down on paper, then they will be more encouraged to share their ideas aloud with the class. This was a great read!

  15. The simple phrase“Turn and talk you have 2 minutes!”
    While its not that simple to get them talking, if you start the year with allowing students to explore their voices everyday, and never give up, even when they are standing firm in silence,your doing the right thing.
    Have a bi-weekly circle (even at secondary levels) be a part of what you always do! This will loosen tongues and make kids feel safe. It will translate into academic language.
    Now the question is not so much as blank stares, but blank squares! Avatars, or initials, miles away from probing questions with a new normal in social dynamics. I’m shaking a little!

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