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Rise of the incoherent questioner

It’s reasonably late in the evening, I’ve had a sub-optimal trip to a wet and miserable London today, and I fancy a bit of a rant. I hope you don’t mind.

It’s a rant about a phenomenon I’ve noticed at various financial services meetings, conferences and workshops over the past year. I’m going to call this phenomena ‘the incoherent questioner’.

We’ve all seen examples of him, I’m sure. It’s usually a him.

The incoherent questioner takes relish in grabbing his opportunity to ask a question during said meeting, conference and workshop. Only he doesn’t ask a question. He does something else instead.

Usually he rambles. He makes a statement, more often than not incoherent, based on his own experiences, biases or worldview.

What might have started as a genuine attempt to ask a question quickly – actually, not quickly, that’s another source of frustration when it comes to the incoherent questioner – descends into something else.

Personally, I find this character frustrating and rude.

We attend these events to hear from expert speakers, not from some chap in the audience who has a random point to make.

Questions from the audience are great, especially when they involve the incredible soft foam microphone box which was thrown and kicked around the Celtic Manor at the IFP Conference this year; bravo, event organisers. Bravo.

The incoherent questioner is not great. In fact, he’s a value destroyer. He makes me far less inclined to attend mass gatherings of financial advisers.

In case the incoherent questioner is reading this, some suggestions for you.

Scribble down your question on a scrap of paper before asking it. Maybe check with a friend or a colleague that it really is a question, and not a rambling statement of some kind.

Try limiting your question to twenty seconds. Ten seconds would be better. You can ask a decent question in ten seconds.

If you find yourself telling a story or recounting a particular point of view, rather than asking the speaker a direct and concise question, apologise quickly and take a seat. It’s better for all concerned.

What other tips or practical solutions can those of us reading this who share my frustration with the incoherent questioner offer?

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