When a speaker asks a question of their audience, it is very interesting to watch the facial expressions of the audience for the first few seconds. Many speakers do not tell the audience what expectations they have with regards to answering the question. You have some audience members looking around to determine if anyone is going to answer the question. There are others who look fearful because they hope the speaker is not going to call on them to answer that question. You have some who have no clue as to what you are asking. If you are going to ask your audience a question, you should tell them what you expect. What if you do not want them to answer the question? Unless you tell the audience that your question is a rhetorical question in some fashion or another, the minds of your audience will automatically begin to decide how they will answer the question or even if they will answer it. In the process they may miss what you are trying to accomplish with your question.
On the other hand, you may want to have the audience become engaged by answering your questions. The problem is that most people don’t want to look foolish. People hate looking stupid. Also, they don’t want necessarily to be the first to answer the question. To help the process along, you may want to employ an old theater trick. Before you go on stage, you look for several audience members willing to answer a question. First, you ask their permission to call on them. Second, you give them the question beforehand which allows them time to think of an answer. By doing this, when you are on stage you now have people willing and able to answer the question calmly and confidently. If you give the person who answered the question a little gift, you begin to add excitement to your audience. People like getting gifts, even if it is only a pen. Of course, if you have written a book that is even better. As a result, other people in your audience will want to become part of action.
Of course, you may find now that everyone wants to answer your questions but that is another blog entry at a later date!