One of the concerns I hear from speakers is "What if I ask a question and no one responds?" A related concern, "What if no one asks questions during Q & A?" This just happened to me today during a teleseminar, so it seemed like an opportune time to address it.
1. Don't take it personally.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable raising their hand to respond to or ask a question in a crowd. It's a form of public speaking, actually, and we all know how people feel about public speaking. Especially when we're not prepared and don't know exactly how we want to say something. The people who ask questions or speak in a crowd are the brave ones!
2. Be prepared.
If you ask a question and no one responds, be prepared with your desired answers. Give them a couple of moments to answer and be aware that the first person may not jump right in. But once you determine that no one will respond to the question, be ready to give your own answers.
3. Don't belittle the audience for not participating.
If it's early in the morning, I might say something like, "I understand, you're not full awake yet -- I'll come back to you a little later." But I won't dwell on it or put them down for not participating. I know it's hard for them to speak up and I don't want to make them feel bad on top of their anxiety.
I've seen speakers refuse to give up, "Come on, SOMEONE must have experienced this before. NO ONE wants to share?" And so forth. Bullying the audience just makes things worse. Leave them alone! Understand that there are a million reasons why they don't want to speak up and leave it at that.
4. Come back later!
Give them another chance. Have several opportunities for participation, in groups, in pairs, etc. Find ways for them to participate that are more comfortable. After this, they will likely be more willing to raise their hands and speak up.
Be open, be gentle, be nonjudgmental. They'll come around.
Article: How to Handle Audience Q&A