One thing is to deliver a clear and convincing presentation to a smaller or larger audience (and in upcoming Tuesday Tips we will provide you with ideas on how to do that). Another and equally important task is to engage the same audience in a question & answer session right after your presentation. And the way you handle these questions and your ability to “think on your feet” and deliver convincing answers can often have at least the same impact than the presentation itself.

There is just one problem: even though you encourage the audience to ask questions – “any questions?” or “I’m sure some of you have questions, right?” – quite often nobody asks a question, especially in a more formal setting with a larger audience.

So what can you do to encourage your audience to ask questions?

Well, you will experience a significant change if you simply adjust the way you ask for questions. Instead of the usual “any questions?” you change to “who has the first question?”.

By asking for “the first question” you signal that there will be several questions coming (even if you actually don’t know that!) making it much less dramatic for the first questioner to take the floor. It is often the fear being the only one who asked a question, which prevents many of us from doing so – even if we really would like to know the answer. But if we feel that even just one or two other participants also will have questions afterward, then we’re fine to ask the first one.

BCW Sports practice is the sport unit of global advisory firm Burson-Marsteller. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: bmsport.staging.wpengine.com