There are no silly questions
(Amy Zhao 翻译)

I have been an academic professor and teacher in all kinds of settings, in the US and overseas. I estimate I may well have attended over 10,000 conferences and meetings. It’s quite common at such meetings to hear a question from the audience that sounds a bit off base, or even “silly”, but, especially in western culture we often say “there are no silly questions.” So what is this all about? In childhood, this is meant to encourage children, to always ask questions, no matter how “silly” it might sound, but I really think this is an important principle for all of life.
我在美国或在国外的各种设定集会里一直是一位 学术教授和老师。 毛估一下我 曾参加过的研讨会和 其他会议至少有一万次。在这样的会议里从听众那儿听到好像有点不对头甚至是 “傻” 的问题是 很常见的。但是我们常说“没有傻问题”, 特别是在 西方社会里。所以这是什么意思呢 ? 在童年, 这意味着鼓励孩子们总要提问题,无论 这个问题听起来是多么的 “傻”。但是 我 认为 鼓励提问题是生活中的一个很重要的原则。

Indeed, when we think about it, there are really no silly questions, because if you think of a question, it’s probably worth somebody answering it! Since you thought of it, and it bothered you, you really should go ahead and ask the question! It turns out that, as a speaker, when I respond politely to a questioner during my talk, then other people are encouraged to more freely ask their questions. It does take some “guts” to ask questions, so we need as much encouragement as possible. This is especially true of some cultures where questions are “not encouraged,” beginning in childhood, which makes it even more intimidating to even think of publicly asking a question, for fear of “sounding silly.”
实在是这样, 当我们想到这点, 真的是没有一个傻问题, 因为 当你想到一个问题, 也许 就值得他人来回答它! 因你已经想到这个问题了, 而且它 已 困扰了你, 你真的该开始问这个问题! 结果,作为一位讲员, 在我礼貌地回答提问者时, 别人也会受到鼓励开始更自在地提问他们的问题。提问题确实需要点“勇气” ,所以我们要给予更多的鼓励。这在有从小提问题不受鼓励,使得一想到在公共场合提问题就害怕问题会“听起来很傻”的文化里尤其确实。

As an experienced speaker standing in front of the audience I usually give the common encouraging and sincere response, “that’s a great question,” or “thank you for that good question.” You might not totally agree with the tone of my response, but you have to sympathize with the reason for it, and hopefully recognize its value. Even if I am a bit confused by the question, I might say, with grace, “hmm, I didn’t quite catch that question, but I think you meant…” and then I can continue to answer the question I thought was asked, or I can give a brief summary of the question as I understood it, and then a clarification of any point that I thought was unclear.
作为一位有经验的讲员,我常站在听众面前很平静地给听众鼓励并诚恳地回答: “那是一个很好的问题,“谢谢你提出这个好问题”。你也许不完全同意我说话的语气,但是你得赞同我如此回答的理由,并希望认识到它的价值。虽然有时我有点被这个问题困惑,我可能会优雅地说, “嗯。。。 我没有完全理解你的问题,但是我想你的意思是。。。”然后 我就可以继续照着我对这个问题的理解去回答, 或者我可以简单地总结下我对这个问题的理解,然后 澄清一下我觉得不太清楚的地方。

So the result is truly that there are no silly questions, because I, as speaker, get to answer and clarify any points that may have slipped by. After all, in any talk there are often many points that maybe I was not totally clear, and also, not everyone understands in the same way, so it is understandable that the point could be missed. Truly I cannot remember any question that was really “silly.”
所以, 实在是没有傻问题, 因为对于讲员来说能得到机会去回答和澄清那悄悄滑过去了的要点。毕竟在任何一个讲座里都会有些不太清楚的地方, 况且每位听众理解的也不全都相同。所以错过了一些要点是可以理解的。真的, 我记不得 哪一个问题真的是“傻” 问题。

Responsive Asian doctors in meeting: questions welcome

I love this approach, because it makes the audience think about the talk more carefully, when they know that they can ask a question freely, and other people won’t look at them as if they were “crazy.” This makes the audience also more engaged. I sometimes use the tactic of even asking the audience to ask some question about the topic before the talk. This gives me a head start on the topic and helps me understand the kind of questions the audience might have. Often I like to stop at “half time” to encourage questions, especially in groups less than 50, which gives me some breathing time, and the ability to clarify points earlier in the talk. This approach also maintains a high degree of interest in the topic, since the audience knows I am really serious in trying to answer their questions. With this approach, I usually have a very attentive audience!
我爱这样的方式,因为当听众知道他们可以自由地问问题而不会被别人认为是“神精病”时,就会更仔细地思考所听的讲座。这样还会让听众更投入。有时候我会用这样的策略:请听众在讲座前提一些与讲题有关的问题。这样做给了我一个对讲题有先行一步的优势,并帮助我明白将要面临的问题和听众。我常常在” “半场” 时停下来鼓励 问问题, 特别是在 少于50人听众的讲座, 使我有时间呼吸一下,并提供我澄清刚才讲过的要点的能力。这样做还可以保持听众对讲题的高度兴趣程度, 因为听众知道我是真的很认真努力地回答他们的问题。借助此法,我通常拥有很好注意力的听众!

Even attentive Thai tribal kids can be encouraged to ask good questions

Speakers know that, if anybody asks a question at a talk, it must mean at least this person was interested, and listening to the talk. This is reassuring for the speaker, since sometimes when he speaks he’s not sure if anybody is really listening! There are a lot of people who mentally sleep through talks, even when their eyes are open (I know, I was once a medical student).
讲员们都知道,任何一位提问题的听众一定是至少对这个讲座有兴趣而且在听。这也是对讲员的鼓励,因为有时候讲员在讲的时候不一定能确定是否有人 真的在听!很多听众整场讲座都是心里睡着的,虽然他们的眼睛是睁开的(我知道,当我是一位医学院的学生时就是这样的听众)。

The great teachers of old, from Socrates to Jesus, commonly asked innumerable questions. Questions, questions, questions. They are the spice of life. Don’t stop asking. And find the Truth, from many questions.
从苏格拉提到耶稣,伟大的导师们普遍地问了数不尽的问题。 问题,问题, 问题。问题是生活的调味料。不要停止问问题。同时从很多问题中寻找真理。