How to Ask Questions at One Young World

Shaaz Nasir

Canadian Delegates One Young World

It’s true that there is never a dumb question. However, there is a dumb way of asking a question. The last thing 1000+ delegates that have traveled around the world want to listen to is your massive 5 min rant/declaration of a poorly thought out opinion.

Don’t be selfish and drain up our precious time , I want to hear Pete Cashmore thoughts on new the age of media or enjoy a great debate between the CEO of Barclays and a delegate from Zimbabwe on the benefits of Capitalism. As David Jones said himself in an attempt to increase the quality of questions “We want Questions. Not blog posts” or what other delegates started saying to each other “Can’t tweet it? Then don’t ask it”.Concisely state your question without some long drawn out attempt to give us “context”. Below is a concrete example of how to ask a question and some quick key tips on sharpening your skills.

Don’t be a Roger Ranter

Mock Question to Muhammad Yunus:

Roger: Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Roger from 123 Country and for the last 50 years we have been seeing a 45% increase in inequality! This is wrong. I believe that we have the power, as youth, to stand together against this injustice. What good is wealth if only the top 1% enjoy it? I ask you all to stand with me on this and go home to fight for your rights to jobs, to the internet, to end aids, to be the best, we are the leaders of today! Let’s act! WE ARE ONE YOUNG WORLD WE CAN DO THIS WE WILL DO THIS TODAY.

Reaction of the Crowd: WTF?

My Thoughts: Sadly this is not a rare occurrence. A good deal of questions asked at OYW are a version of the above rant. But where is the question? This was a rant that had no real point; Roger went from giving us a 50 year recap to income inequality to asking us to end Aids. I respect Roger’s passion but he has failed to get value from the counsellor. Please don’t be a Roger Ranter. Instead, I would have advised Roger to ask this question:

Revised Question: My Name is Roger from 123 country, Mr. Yonus what are some precise policies to reduce income inequality in my home country within the agriculture community. I want to lobby the government with my people in an effective manner.

This question helps Roger get useful information to deliver some real results on reducing income inequality and also leverages the knowledge of Mr. Younus. It’s a win win for everyone.

Key Tips

1. Speak loudly by raising your voice but not putting your mouth closer to the Mic. The greater the distance between your mouth and the mic the less of a chance we will all hear that horrid “screech’ noise aka feedback.

2. State your name and country as people may want to follow up with you afterwards on your question.

3. Don’t apologize for your accent. We all have accents and chances are you speak better English than 30% of native English speakers. By apologizing you’re just wasting time allotted for questions.

4. Don’t answer your own question. Far too many times I have heard a great question be ruined by a proceeding 3 min rant. Stop it. Ask the question, shut up, and listen to the answer.

5. Ask one good question. Do not be that person who has a massive list of questions or one question with many parts. Please refer to my example above, be focused and clear.

Secret Tip: Sit next to the microphone to increase your chances of asking a question as you’re always going to be first in line.

The great thing about OYW is that it gives you a chance to further improve your professional skills. Learning how to ask a question in an efficient yet impactful way is a critical asset to have for your career. I understand it can be nerve racking trying to ask a question in your third language to your number one idol, but I believe you have everything it takes not to be a Roger Ranter. Together, with a little bit of effort, we can further improve One Young World with concise questions!