ThatJeffSmith

Questions & Comments – Why You Aren’t Getting Any

Even crickets make some noise.


I’ve been blogging in one form or another for about 5 years. Since I published that first story, I’ve spent more than a little bit of time waiting for comments to start flooding in.

And they haven’t really flooded in. If I compare my posts to folks that I follow (Mark Schaefer and Brent Ozar), my 6 comments looks puny to their 337. I have a pretty good idea why a blog post may or may not receive a comment:

  • The forum doesn’t welcome them – don’t ask me to register!
  • The content isn’t thought provoking
  • I agree with everything you say and there’s not much to add
  • I don’t care enough to do more than just read and leave
  • I’m afraid to voice my opinion and expose myself as an ‘idiot’ or N00B
  • My community is pretty small. Engaged, but small. A post would have to go super-viral to get the sort of response others see regularly.

When I blog, I’m actually just taking my inner-voice and putting it to paper. One of the reasons I blog is to rehearse and try out some of the content I use to present to live audiences. Now I’ve been presenting to groups of 5 and 100 since 2005. I think that I’m mostly OK at it. My knowledge of the subject matter and my dry sense of humor usually makes up for my inadequacies of a presenter. What frustrates me most is a room of people that just sit there like sheep.

Where are the questions?

And then I wondered this morning, what parallels can I draw to what I have learned as a blogger?

Why People Don’t Participate in Your Presentations

  • You actively discourage participation — Don’t be this guy!
  • You passively discourage participation — you ask for questions, but don’t pause for more than 20 seconds
  • The audience is only there because their boss told them they had to there – it happens!
  • No connection with the audience. Find out who you’re speaking to before you start speaking. Ask lots of questions if need be.
  • You haven’t said anything controversial – you haven’t put anything they believe into doubt or question

I used to think that I wasn’t getting much feedback because I wasn’t actually helping anyone. I throw so much information at the audience, they’re too busy trying to absorb it and keep up to participate. I’ve learned to scale back the amount of technical information I deliver. I try to tell more stories, and to personally relate to the problems they face. And, I have taken my presentation and put it into book form so that they can sit back and relax.

But after all this, sometimes I step up to the plate and hit nothing but foul balls. Like yesterday. Presenting is part of my job, but I can’t let my presentations become routine. I need to stay fresh and approach each speaking opportunity as if it’s my first one. When you’re not a little bit nervous, there’s probably something wrong.