Picture this, you’re attending an Affiliate Marketing conference and are at a Q&A session regarding new tools from networks and how they benefit both Merchants and Affiliates. You have what you believe is a great question.
As you raise your hand, you notice the number of people in the room including many “big names” in the industry. Your palms get sweaty and you being to question yourself about if your actual question might “sound stupid” to this group. As you’re acknowledged to ask, you stammer out an “I’m sorry” and quickly sit down, face flushed. You look down, embarrassed and not wanting to make eye contact with anyone as the moderator shrugs and moves on to the next person who has a question.
This situation happens to thousands of people everyday across the world in a myriad of different scenarios. Fear of public speaking is a common issue with many, compounding that with the fear of “asking a dumb question” exacerbates it even more. This turns into many people psyching themselves out and muttering an “I’m sorry” and dodging having to ask a tough question. Some call it the “Apology Reflex” as seen in this article in the NY Times.
It’s a common reflex, people use it for many types of situations such as appearance, asking questions, not responding fast enough and more. This Greatist.com article touches on these points and explains why people use the “I’m sorry” crutch to handle too many situations that they shouldn’t.
My challenge to you is this. The next time you attend a show, I want you to have the confidence to ask your question regardless of how many people or “who” may be in that room. For starters, you’ll get the answer you were seeking. Also, you may find that some attendees may have had the same or a similar question to yours. This could lead to some great discussions after the session and foster new business relationships in the future. I’ve been to many shows where I’ve heard someone say “I’m sure glad you asked that question!” It’s a great icebreaker into a deeper discussion later on!
Be confident in your line of questioning, do not apologize for what you ask, believe in yourself.