Many people do not have time for “dumb” questions but encouraging all questions will quickly bring greater transparency, trust and understanding to all forms of communication.
As a corporate trainer for over 25 years, I cannot count the number of times that I have heard someone in class say “that was my question too”. Getting a class trusting enough to ask questions, is invaluable. It can make the difference between a fine class and a great one. Hint: it works the same in meetings too.
I approach this several different ways:
I always respond positively to all questions. Give all questions respect and space, answer them seriously and without signs of frustration or annoyance.
I ask the first “dumb” question (even if I know the answer). Might as well be the one to break the ice. Where is the Ladies room? Is there a kitchenette nearby? How do I get back to the parking garage?
If I overhear a question before class I will address it as part in class (without mentioning names). This lets the attendees know that I am okay being asked whatever questions they have.
Encourage all questions – remember: One person’s dumb question is another person’s smart one.