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.
Was the talk any good?
Yes: “I really liked your talk. …”
No: “I really liked your talk. …”
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?”
“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.
Picture: from twitter (https://twitter.com/tammyingram/status/343868282538954752/photo/1). Original source unknown.