Asking questions is a lost art. Yes, I just said that.
As humans, we are good at asking questions that don't mean much ie "How are you?" or "How are things going?" - often not waiting for the answer. What we need to get better at in developing events is asking questions both in developing the event and in delivering the event. Imagine if in the table above you sat down, and were unfamiliar with the art of Dali - you may question why everything is the way it is... a little "off" and always interesting. You may also be shy to ask, or worried that you may be the only one. In events we need to make sure there are safe ways to create comfort for questions - it is often in the search for answers that innovation is found.
Questions allow you a safe way to look at new solutions from different perspectives. Imagine if instead of presenting the (creative, out of the box, on-target) idea for an event, you instead were able to put your stakeholders in a room and instead of saying "here's the plan for our conference" opening up the door to them to potentially rethink the approach to the event by asking questions that get to the heart of objectives.
At the Exclusively Corporate Day at #IMEX16 the first presenter of the morning Kaihan Krippendorff shared with the group the importance of questions and creating space for disruptive thinking. Kaihan is truly an expert on "disruptive thinking for future expansion" and to be introduced to this concept even briefly made me want to go out and buy at least 3 of his 4 books to better understand how to increase our mental agility using the patterns our brain responds to, and how to use various narratives to better understand and tell our own stories. It always comes back to starting with questions - to ensure you are on the right track and to open up to new ideas and ways to approach what we are doing. Check out his website, and begin your Question Journey.
Now back to comfortable learning spaces for your participants. We have SO many ways to ask questions, including using apps where the question can be typed in with a name or anonymously and the group can up-vote, making it easier for the moderator to choose in what is always limited time to continue the conversation between presenters and audience. (yesterday we used Sli.do all day, while ICCA's session used another tool from Corbin Ball, and there really are an endless array available to try). There is the "old-fashioned" microphone, and the new tossable Catchbox which is a million times easier (no runners needed) and so much fun it encourages questions from the floor. However you do this - bring back the questions!