Asking Questions at Public Events….

Some call it the ‘intelligence of the audience,’ yet sometimes it’s just not that.  We refer to the Q&A session after public talks or lectures.  At Live Talks Los Angeles, we look forward to them, as you never know what will come up, like the time on November 22nd, 2010,  when we hosted Roger McGuinn of The Byrds.  Being the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, someone asked McGuinn to comment on his recollections of  that day. Mcguinn started to speak, and then decided the music said more, so played the Byrds’ version of the song, He Was a Friend of Mine, with the song’s melody altered and the lyrics changed to lament the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Here’s the video (at 3:22).  It was one of those moments at a public event.

Speaking of questions at public events, at Live Talks Los Angeles, we remind folks that questions are short and generally starts with a W or an H.  In today’s NYT is a piece by Misha Glouberman on Q&As at public events that we liked. Here’s an excerpt:

‘How do I know if my question is a good question?’’

‘‘Good question,’’ I reply, setting them on a spiral of positive feedback. A good question is, by definition, a question. You cannot just take a statement and raise the pitch at the end. Sometimes people will say ‘‘Might it not be said that statement-statement-statement?’’ or ‘‘How would you respond were someone to say statement-statement- statement?’’ You can’t just take a statement and dress it up in a question’s clothes, like the Little Rascals dressing up as a grown-up to get into a movie.

Also, if there are grammarians in the audience, they will support me when I say that there is no such grammatical construct as a two-part question. If you think you have a two-part question, you actually just have two questions. We encourage you to ask the better of the two and save the crappy one for a less-discriminating lecture series.