That’s a great question …

By now, you probably realize how much I love to rant about communication habits that lack uncommon sense or uncommon courtesy … or both. One such habit involves what people say when they get a question during a presentation, a meeting or even during a conversation.

How often have you heard someone reply to questions with something like ‘That’s a great question … ‘ ? In my rants, I refer to that habit as ‘contrived courtesy’ – it may sound like you’re being polite or appreciative, but you’re really just being lame:

  • How do you know it’s a great question? It might be a dumb one. Oh yes, there are dumb questions – I’ll rant about that in another issue.
  • If it was such a great question, why didn’t you include the answer in your initial remarks?
  • If you respond that way to the first few questions, but then don’t, how does that questioner feel?
  • Whether appropriate or not, the audience gets real tired of hearing that response after the third time, certainly after the sixth.
  • The only response the audience really wants is for you to answer the question concisely.

So, if you cut out the typical ‘contrived courtesy’ comments that add no value, you’ll have time for a few more answers or be able to end earlier. And either of these outcomes will add value.