In previous blog posts we’ve looked at how important it is to ask questions, and we’ve explored a few different ways of forming questions. But how should you ask questions in a business situation?
Asking the wrong questions can either lead to people feeling left out, or to meetings that go on for far too long. Let’s look at three types of questions, and the best times to use them, to make our meetings most effective.
These are questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, or when people can only answer from a limited range of options. For example, “Do you agree?” or “Which idea is the best?”.
Closed questions are useful for seeing what people’s reactions are quickly, especially when you want to take a vote on something. To save time, rather than asking “What should we do?”, give people options: “Should we do a, b or c?”.
Don’t ask closed questions when you want people to give new ideas or share detailed information.
Questions starting with ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’, ‘When’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ are open questions. They require people to give longer answers and are useful when you want people to give new ideas or detailed feedback on topic.
When you ask an open question you don’t know how long someone’s answer will be, so it’s useful to think about this before you ask the question. Set a time limit for these sections of a meeting and make sure everyone knows how much time you will spend on it to avoid things running late.
A rhetorical question isn’t a real question; it’s a question to which other people already know the answer. For example “Do we want to make more profit this year?”. Of course we do, so why ask the question?
Rhetorical questions are used to prove a point, or to show you are right about something, and can be very useful for making a strong argument for an idea you want people to agree with. By asking a question with an obvious answer that you all agree on, you can encourage listeners that your idea is right.
So, what questions are you going to ask in your next meeting? Let us know using the comments section below.
image: Alejandro Escamilla