Good Questions!

We spend so much time thinking about what we will say but not much time thinking about what we will ask.   Communication runs both directions so put just as much time in preparing your message as you do in preparing your questions.

Before all else, the questioner must ask “What is it I want to know?” We need to think strategically to ask good questions.  Ask:  “What am I curious about?”  “What is important to know?”  Then we can get to tactics:  “How will I phrase my questions?”  “What words will I use?”  “When will I ask them?”

The manner in which a question is crafted will affect the manner in which it is answered.   Wording a question carelessly may not get the information or the interesting revelation you seek and it may cause misunderstanding.  The phrase “Are there any questions?” yields nothing.   It is worthless.  If the answer is “no,” you have learned nothing.  If you do get questions from your audience, all you learn is that they have questions – that’s it.  You do not know how they feel about what
you’ve said, what they will do about what you’ve said, or what they understand
about what you’ve said.

Here are some suggestions to be a good questioner:

  • Plan the questions you will ask your audience.
  • Write them into your deck so your audience sees them.
  • Frame them so your audience knows how they will benefit from giving a thoughtful answer.
  • Craft open questions to get people talking.  Start with “What,” “Why” and
    “How.”
  • Send the questions in advance of the conversation or presentation so people can prepare.
  • Bring your questions to a presentation, when you are a listener.

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Voltaire (1694 – 1778)