How to ask a conference question

Many people are too shy to ask a question after a talk. They may think that many questions are unnecessary, self-important or off topic. Well, that is true. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone from joining in. With this guide anyone is guaranteed to be able to ask a perfectly normal question at any conference in Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience and beyond.

 

conference, question, speaker, talk, cartoon

 

Beginning formula

Was the talk any good?

Yes: “I really liked your talk. …”

No: “I really liked your talk. …”

 

Main question

Did the presented study use animal models?

Yes: “How could this research be done with humans and what would you predict to happen?”

No: “What would be a good animal model for this topic and couldn’t this resolve some of the methodological issues of your design.”

 

Was the research fundamental (non-applied)?

Yes: “What would be a practical application of these results?”

No: “What is the underlying mechanism that is behind these results?”

 

Was the research done on children?

Yes: “What do your results say about adult processing?”

No: “What would be the developmental time course of these effects?”

 

Did the study only use typical Western student participants?

Yes: “Have you thought about whether these effects will hold up also in non-Western cultures?”

No: “Have you looked into more detail whether the Western sample itself may have subgroups?”

 

Joker:

“Could you go back to slide 6 and explain something for me.” [Wait for scrolling back and ask what a figure actually means. If no figure on slide 6 appears, ask to go one ahead. Repeat until a slide with a figure appears.]

 

If all fails:

Talk at length about your own research followed by “this is less of a question and more of a comment”.

 

Behaviour after question

Could the presenter influence your career?

Yes: Hold eye-contact and nod (whatever s/he says).

No: Check your smartphone for brainsidea updates.

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Picture: from twitter (https://twitter.com/tammyingram/status/343868282538954752/photo/1). Original source unknown.

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