Does That Make Sense?

As a Program Leader and senior manager on our program development team, I love staying in touch with past participants and helping them continue to use the Decker tools they’ve learned in the ‘real world.’

Recently, we received the following question:

I recently noticed that many speakers continually say to their audience, “Does that make sense?” or “I hope that makes sense.” What is your analysis of this? Is it effective?

So here’s the answer.

There are a few issues with this phrase.

  1. It’s just filler words: In some cases, speakers use this phrase as a filler, a transitional phrase. They’re using it to buy time. When they do it a lot….
  2. It can feel condescending: It’s as if the audience isn’t going to get the content anyway, so it’s better to ask ahead of time to make sure they can follow along. This is how it felt to our questioner in the meeting she attended that brought this question to our inbox.
  3. It feels disingenuous: It’s a question posed without any desire for an answer. The speaker is really just asking the question to get validation and affirmation that they are on the right track. They aren’t asking a question to really clarify with the audience at all.

If you actually want to check in with your audience to see if they have questions, here’s a better way to ask: “Any questions on the material so far?” Pause to check in periodically and to let your audience respond. We do this all the time in our programs between modules or after a hefty section.

If you really want to hear from your audience, be directive. Ask them to offer their opinions. There are a lot of ways to phrase this. But here are a couple examples:

  • “These are my perceptions/thoughts. I’m curious, what do you think?” 
  • “Have we missed anything? What would you add?”

If you tend to ‘”check in” with your audience without really expecting an answer, try one of the tactics above to leave your listeners feeling heard and understood.

Have another idea of how to engage an audience? We want to hear it in a comment below!

Iron Sharpens Iron

News flash! Ignorance is not bliss. It’s amazing how many companies, organizations and teams there are these days that don’t give each other feedback. Feedback is critical to being a better communicator. Too often, leaders don’t take the time to ask for feedback and they never get better. But iron … Continue reading

Team in Training — for Communication

I’m guilty of waiting to floss until the day before my dentist appointment. Last minute rush to fix what needs to be fixed. I’ve spent the last few weeks at different company kickoffs, product rollouts and industry conferences to do a quick “floss” before they go live. But as my … Continue reading

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

It’s a term that doesn’t get used often, although we all talk about it quite often. You know someone who bought a car or was thinking of buying that car. Then all of a sudden, they see the same car all around them and wonder what happened? That’s Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and it … Continue reading

Three Reasons Your Message Isn’t Getting Through

What if almost half of everything you say isn’t getting through? Actually, if you have young kids, as we do, you’re probably thinking that about half of it getting through is pretty darn good. Well, maybe it’s debatable that it’s okay when you’re dealing with kids (although we don’t actually … Continue reading

Did You Read My Email?

If you’ve ever said or sent that question, you need these email tips. What’s the matter with emails? We read (and write) them when we’re sitting at our desks, moving between meetings (or sometimes even during meetings), hopping on the subway, standing in line for lunch, watching Netflix or even … Continue reading

Too Much Executive Presence?

Many Fortune 500 companies have high potential (HiPo) leadership programs that work together over weeks and come together to deliver a final presentation on a project or idea to the top leadership and CEO. We sometimes get the chance to be brought into these programs to cultivate “executive presence” among these rising leaders. Over the course … Continue reading

Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

“I’m sorry, you go first.” “I’m sorry, I need to grab something.” “Sorry, can I scoot by you?” How often do you start a statement with a quick, “I’m sorry…”? This Pantene ad hits home how overused the phrase is – especially by women. In the opening of the ad, … Continue reading

Is There a Second Tier Audience?

We’ve all done it. Opened the previous deck. Tweaked a few slides. Updated the numbers on the corresponding leave-behind, then scrambled off to the next presentation, meeting or coffee. Most of the time, it works. The new client or contact gets the bulk of the information you wanted to share, … Continue reading

It’s Called Humble Confidence

Who would you rather sit next to on an airplane… the I’m-so-great-guy who tells you exactly where to go and what to do – and how he knows all the insider scoop from sports scores to restaurants to books to read, or the guy who offers ideas and suggestions, paired … Continue reading