A technique that is good for everything

Drink plenty of water. It helps to eliminate toxins, regulate your body temperature, and improve your concentration… Drinking water, it seems like the magic solution for all ailments.

Also when you give presentations, there is something that has only positive effects. Any idea what that could be?

The answer: asking questions. Especially rhetorical questions. Those are questions the audience does not need to answer. Such as ‘Any idea what that could be?’ That is a rhetorical question.

So, what ailments do rhetorical questions help to relieve? And how can you use them in your presentation? Give me five minutes, and I will explain.

Palpitations caused by stress

How do you generally feel during the first few moments of your presentation? Chances are, your breathing quickens, your heart starts beating faster, and you even gasp for air.

The solution? Start your presentation with a rhetorical question. Such as: ‘Do you know the saying: One bad apple spoils the barrel?’

Why is it a good idea to start with a rhetorical question? Because it will give you a few seconds of quiet after the question is asked, allowing your audience to think. Use those few seconds to catch your breath. And you will immediately notice your stress levels drop.

Monotone voice

There is nothing more sleep-inducing than a speaker using the same tone of voice throughout his presentation. So how can you change things up? By asking rhetorical questions. Such as: ‘But how did we come up with that idea?’

By asking a question, you automatically alter the tone and encourage the audience to continue listening.

Presentation rush

You may know your content inside out, but to your audience this is all new information. That means they need time to understand your message. If you race through your presentation, little will stick at the end.

Rhetorical questions help you pause for a moment before taking the audience to the next step. Ask, for example, ‘How come there is no solution yet?’

Sleep-inducing monologue

At times it may seem as if the speaker is just talking to himself. All you hear is: ‘I am …’, ‘My job is …’, ‘In this project of mine…’ Such a monologue creates distance.

What happens if, right from the start, you ask a rhetorical question, such as ‘What would you do if you were told you only had 24 hours to live?’ In this way you encourage the audience to reflect and make them feel you are communicating with them. They are also more likely to ask you questions afterwards.

And now it is up to you

Take a look at your own presentation. It is always possible to ask a rhetorical question at the start. Then check for any transitions in your story, for example where you explain how you would solve a particular problem. At such a transition, it pays to ask a rhetorical question.

It may take some practice, initially, to ask questions regularly. But soon enough you will get the hang of it and do this automatically.

Asking questions is like drinking water: it relieves all ailments, but do it in moderation. By the way, did you know that regularly taking a sip of water during your presentation will keep your vocal cords in top shape?

Do you and your team want to learn not only how to use rhetorical questions, but also how to present with impact? Let us know!