“Please Hold your Questions Until the End.”

Written by Pam Chambers

Have you ever heard a speaker say, “Please hold your questions until the end”? Here’s why that’s a bad idea:

  1. People who have a burning question on their mind are now distracted and are unlikely to fully grasp whatever comes next. Their learning is now halted.
  2. Unless they write their question down, they might forget what it was. What a shame that would be if the question were to have benefitted everyone present!
  3. When you ask your audience to be silent “until the end,” you create an unnatural relationship. In fact, you prevent a relationship from developing.
  4. You show that you are fearful of something. What? Losing track? Losing control? Running out of time? Not knowing the answer? Competent speakers have the tools and skill to prevent any and all of these possibilities.

If you are lucky enough to have a stimulated audience who has lots of questions, you may have to “praise and limit.” You might say, “I’m delighted that you are so interested! I want to be sure I cover what I promised, so let me take one more question now.”

Here is my final argument against “Hold your questions until the end:” Would you ask the same of a dining companion? “I thought you should be aware of my lunch rule: I will do all the talking until the final five minutes. Then YOU can ask questions or offer your opinion.” You’d be a very lonely diner indeed! Don’t be a lonely diner and don’t be a lonely speaker either.

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