Is This Scalpel Good For Brain Surgery?
(When questions and answers go awry…)
I often find myself frustrated by many of the questions and answers posted about Voice Acting on online forums.
What’s this got to do with Scalpels and Brain Surgery? Everything!
There are 4 parts to what I consider a good, helpful Q+A:
- The person asking the question (background, experience, etc.)
- The person answering (background, experience, etc.)
- The question itself (researched, specific, unambiguous, etc.)
- The answer (takes into account all of the above and addresses the issues, possibly raising new questions)
Based on these 4 parts, here are some general thoughts on how we can all do better asking and answering questions (based on the “Scalpels for Brain Surgery” example):
- Before you ask a question, do some research.
Many of the questions being asked have been asked and answered. Try searching professional forums on the topic you’re interested in. Look for instructional videos or reviews. Ask a trusted teacher or a professional in the industry. A side benefit of this may mean that you’ll find other answers to questions you hadn’t even considered.
- Give people some background before asking the question.
It’s impossible to answer a question if you don’t know who you’re speaking to, or what their experience is. For our Scalpels example, are they a med student? Practicing doctor? Surgeon? Or just an interested non-medical person? Knowing this will make it easier for people to give helpful answers.
- Be as specific as possible when asking for advice.
I’ve seen newbies and pros make the same mistake: broad, non-specific questions. Try to narrow down the question before posting it. If you’re not sure how to narrow it, that may mean you don’t know what you’re really after. In that case, go back and do some more digging and research. If you ask a wide open question, you’re likely to get a wide range of useless answers.
- Find out who you’re talking to.
This is really important for both the person asking the question (see “Background” above), and for the person answering. After all, if you’re a qualified brain surgeon looking for a real answer about scalpels, you probably don’t want the advice of a med student, veterinarian, or failed top-chef contestant. Beware of newbies answering other newbie questions!
- Don’t answer questions if you’re not qualified.
Lots of people are more than willing to jump in with their opinion on any topic posted online. This doesn’t mean they’re qualified to answer. I know it’s difficult, but try to know the limits of your own knowledge. Too much misleading and downright horrible information is being shared as if it’s the truth. Before answering, ask yourself how much you really know about the question being asked. If the answer is “I watched a YouTube once about Do-It-Yourself Brain Surgery”, maybe you should sit this one out…
BTW, this advice is a follow-up to a prior post:
Advice on Advice
So, can we all do better? Yes!
Will we? That’s up to you…
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com