Be bold enough to ask all of the Stupid Questions everyone else is too chicken to ask!
I think the majority of people are afraid to ask questions in public (especially in front of their peers) for fear of appearing stupid.
After a seminar or lecture, audience members are usually given an opportunity to ask questions of the speaker or instructor. A question may immediately pop into the head of several people in the room, but they will talk themselves out of asking it.
Some questions seem so obvious that people overthink it, and then talk themselves out of asking the question entirely. They figure if it's the first question that popped into their head, then other people in the room will probably ask it anyway -- or if it doesn't get asked they think the question must have been too basic or remedial to be asked in the first place and feel relieved that they weren't the fool to voice such a simplistic question aloud in front of so many other people.
The error in their thinking is to wave off that first question.
If they thought of that particular question first, then it's likely that others in the room are having the exact same question spring to their minds.
It's not a stupid question if the speaker assumed knowledge his audience did not in fact possess, or the instructor forgot to cover a topic in enough detail in order to establish that concept firmly within the minds of the group members.
It's ignorance, not stupidity
I don't know if the word "ignorant" feels any better to someone who thinks their question was "stupid" -- but it really is.
Stupid means you may not have the ability or capacity to learn new concepts. Ignorant simply means you don't have that knowledge YET.
Ignorance is why you attend classes and keynotes and lectures to begin with -- you want to expose yourself to new concepts, new lessons, and new information. You want to collect and retain that knowledge so that you can apply it to other areas of your life.
Not knowing the answer to a question is simply ignorance.
You can eliminate that ignorance by asking questions and learning from the answers.
Being given an opportunity to ask questions in order to clarify new concepts and root it firmly in your mind for future reference and NOT availing yourself of that opportunity is the only thing that's stupid.
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