Ice Cream Queues & Breaking Meeting Silence

It's been a hot summer. Good for ice cream sales then. But perhaps no-one foresaw it being this good for one shop along WuKang road.

If you live in Shanghai you may well recognise the below photo. People happily waiting in line for more than 1.5 hours. That's a 200 meter long queue for an ice-cream.

Are the ice-creams free? No. Special price deal? No. 4 Dollars a scoop. 

So what is going on here? Why would anyone spend 1.5 hours of their time queuing up for a scoop of ice-cream?

Welcome to social proof (or herd mentality). It means “people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation”.

In simple terms, this means people will copy what others do, especially if everyone is doing it.  There are many examples of social proof. Take “canned laughter” in TV series. People laugh you laugh too. Or take product endorsements (celebrity social proof) and the "Oprah Winfrey effect".

The fact that people take photos of their ice-cream and share on social media adds further weight to this point.

From ice creams to getting feedback from you audience..

So what then is the link between social proof and getting feedback from your audience?

Everything.  Ever been leading a meeting or delivering a presentation and you ask the audience if anyone has any questions and you can hear a pin drop? Brilliant presentation? Unlikely.

The issue here is that not many people are queuing up (pun intended) to ask that first question. There is simply too much perceived risk of asking a question - after-all no-one else is asking questions.

Conversely, have you noticed that as soon as one person asks a question it typically sets off a wave of other questions from multiple audience members.

What can you do if you want your audience to ask questions/get feedback in a meeting/during a presentation?

3 Tips to Get Your Audience Queuing Up to Ask Questions

1. (For managers) Select a peer to be the “designated question asker” for your weekly meeting. He/she must ask a question at any time. This normally gets the ball rolling.

2. Instead of waiting till the end of your meeting/presentation....try to check-in more regularly with your audience. At the end of an important slide for example.

3. Prepare 1-2 easy questions before for the audience. Note the aim here is not to challenge your audience but more to create the environment for questions.
For the past 10 years, Advance Consulting has worked with more than
100 different Multi-National Companies on improving Communication Skills in the workplace. 
Please get in contact with us: 021 6103-7029 or if you need support in this area.