Asking good questions is a key part of facilitation and can really help to get group conversations flowing. Creating the right questions to start with means you are far more likely to get the responses you need. Obviously.
So how can you make sure you ask the right questions?
Here are some tips to help you use questions better.
- Know why you are asking the question in the first place. Do you want to ask a question to stimulate discussion? Sometimes the purpose of a question may just be to get people talking, and that’s okay. How you ask the question is still important, but what people provide in answer is not mission critical. On the other hand, you might actually need some information from people. The responses might actually be vital. Whatever the reason, knowing why you are asking the question in the first place is important.
- Don’t cram too much into a question. Particularly in a workshop setting, you might want participants to some up with a lot of ideas and use their time productively. But if you are asking too much, it is often hard to untangle, and people will get lost when they are answering. This is even harder when the question isn’t written down. It is often better to create two clear, succinct sentences than one long one that you have to think really hard about to understand.
- “What are the barriers to good communication at work and how do you think that these will affect the team’s performance taking onto consideration the size and the make up of the team when they are in a remote environment?” is pretty wordy and could easily be broken down into a series of questions:
- “Our diverse team of 10 is working remotely, what hinders our communication?“, then part 2 “How do you think these things affect the team’s performance?”
- Try to make your questions clear. Think about what you are asking and write it down before hand if you need to. Having a general sense of what you need and formulating the question while you are speaking will often land you in trouble as it is not always clear.
- Try not to ask a question on top of a question. This often happens when the first question is not clear, and you end up rephrasing it several times and it becomes confusing.
- Try to limit the amount of questions you ask at once and give people time to answer and process one before you move on to the next. If you do have a series of questions to ask, write them down for people, and give them thinking time.
What kind of questions do you like to ask?