Don’t Pull My Finger

As a public speaker, I get the weirdest requests.

Sometimes, event organizers want me to provide some “seed questions” that a moderator can ask me after a presentation. Usually, they use these when audience members do not immediately raise their hands when asked if they have any questions. In such a case, the moderator switches to a prearranged seed question after which the audience has usually awakened from its coma.

I don’t like giving organizers seed questions. Why should I be the one to tell them which questions they must ask me? It makes me think of a not-to-be-named family member who asked kids to pull on one of his fingers when he felt some gas coming up. And when they innocently pulled a finger, guess what happened? He thought it was hilarious.

Event organizers know their audiences better than I do. There’s no need to be lazy or to defer the bootstrapping of the Q&A to me. It is their job to make sure that we answer the important questions of their audience. And they shouldn’t care about anything that I most urgently want to get out of me.

When moderators do their job well, they generate a question or two on behalf of their audiences. And when they do, it happens often enough that they pose me questions I would never have imagined, and I need to think and offer an answer fast!

That prevents me from being lazy too.

I’m not going to let anyone pull my fingers. So don’t ask. If I have something relevant to say, I’ll say it. I don’t need to have it pulled out of me. Instead, I look forward to getting surprising questions that will challenge me!

(c) 2008 Derek Bridges, Creative Commons 2.0

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