I forget where, but I once read somewhere that simply asking whether there are any questions is the worst way to discover whether your students have any questions. That can't literally be right: telling them you'll destroy their genitals if they ask any questions is surely a worse way to elicit questions. So it must be hyperbole or something.
Anyways, my problem with the people who say that simply asking your students if they have questions is a poor way to elicit questions is that the admonishment is never accompanied by positive advice. If I'm not supposed to say, "does anybody have any questions," what am I supposed to say? It's as though eliciting questions is some sort of incommunicable skill; like you have to be some sort of classroom whisperer with a magical gift of getting the students to ask the questions they have. The rest of us can never hope to get to that level.
So I've been asking my students what, if not asking whether there are any questions, I should be doing. They don't know. I ask them if they ever had one of these classroom whisperers who could really elicit the good questions. None of them ever have. One guy says he had a math teacher who elicited lots of questions by being obscure and never explaining anything. Obviously, that's not a good way to elicit questions. Another guy says he doesn't ask many questions because he doesn't find me confusing. I already explained the stuff he was going to ask about, he says.
But the weird thing is this: whenever I have this discussion with a class, it leads seamlessly to them asking a bunch of good, penetrating questions about the material we were covering right before this digression. It's really bizarre. The best way I've found to elicit questions is just to claim that you have no idea how to elicit questions.