Is receiving no questions at the end of your presentation a sign of failure?!
You finish your presentation; you turn to the audience and ask, “So, do you have any questions?”
No one responds and there is nothing but silence.
Audience members feel uncomfortable with the unfilled silence and you automatically start assuming that your presentation was a disaster!
But that’s not 100% correct, lack of questions don’t necessarily signify that the audience wasn't interested.
Sure sometimes this can also indicate audience boredom or disappointment but those audiences usually reflect that in their body language through signals such as heads resting in palms or fidgeting.
So what other reasons can cause a lack of questions?
1) Not being “Approachable”:
This happens mainly because of the way you speak. Speakers who sound aggressive or those who use very tough formal body language, despite their knowledge and intensive experience, have fewer tendencies to receive questions than those who use more open friendly gestures and less intimidating voice tone and facial expressions.
2) The consensus effect:
People often look to each other when making decisions and the herd mentality is a powerful force across humanity. If everybody else thinks this action is right, it must be right. We often choose the path of the herd, particularly when we lack adequate information.
Most people are less likely to initiate a question if no one else did, and they are more likely to engage and ask if other people raised their hands to do.
3) Audience's fear of looking stupid:
Most people tend to assume they will sound stupid if they were the only ones to ask questions. Of course, no one wants to feel stupid and it is always easier to remain silent than risk feeling embarrassed, however, the organizer should always be prepared to help ease the attendees' fears in order to encourage interaction.
4) The level of your content:
If your presentation is too simple for the level of knowledge of your audience and you’re using a material they’ve covered before then most probably they won’t have any questions. On the other side, if it’s too complicated for them, they’ll turn off rather than taking the risk of asking a question which might make them look stupid.