You Get What You Ask For

Asking an audience to answer a question during your speech is unpredictable. I sometimes open a speech with the story of my getting braces when I was fifty years old. I introduce the story by showing my front teeth to the audience in an exaggerated manner.  This usually gets a smile or chuckle and helps me connect with the audience. I will move into the audience and ask one of the audience members if she or he thinks I have nice-looking teeth. Of course a typical answer I receive is, “Yes, they look great.”

But I was not expecting the answer at the beginning of one speech when I looked at a woman on the front row and asked, “Don’t you think I have nice straight teeth?”  I bite down on my lower teeth, show an exaggerated smile, and wait expectantly for her answer. She stares at me with that “deer in the headlight” look that tells me I might have asked the wrong person, and then blurts out, “I can’t tell. My eyes are dilated. I just came from the dentist office.”

After the laughter died down, I continued with my story. When you ask a question,  be ready for the unexpected answer.