Asking Questions

Good presenters sprinkle questions throughout their MoveSMART® presentations. Questions are valuable because they actively involve the group and get people thinking. It invites everyone into the action as they first hear the question, second, make a response, third, listen to other responses, and then work through any differences or misunderstandings.

Any answers can be used as a launching place to make – or reinforce – an important point.

They show respect toward the group as being “experts” in their own right.

In fact, questions are valuable ways to measure how the program is coming across. Questions help you discover what the group is really thinking, rather than your guessing.

Here’s a guide for developing and using questions:

– Plan ahead for best times to elicit questions. Good questions may sometimes come up spontaneously. Most of them are well thought out in advance.

– It’s a good idea to try questions out with others to make sure they make sense. Co-trainers are great resources for this.

– Consider asking questions to the group rather than just to chosen individuals. Putting individuals on the spot will not win you points – and may actually spur participants to mentally check out ­– or even create enemies.

– Ask questions the group has a legitimate answer to or opinion about.

– If you do ask an individual a question, make it friendly, not challenging: “Joe, you’ve run that machine for a long time. Do you have ideas you might share from experience as to how Smart Hands® might apply?”

– When you ask a question, give the group some time to get it. Don’t jump in if there’s a short silence. You may have to prompt people if they need encouragement:  “I really do want to hear your ideas.” (followed by another long pause). You might even “prime the pump” by offering one sample response yourself and then re-ask the question (“What are other ways this could apply”?)

Some question no-nos:

– Never use a question to show others how dumb they are – or how smart you are.

– Beware of asking questions you don’t want to hear the answer to, or that might lead into a negative or unproductive discussion.

– Never ask a question intended to trap someone into a mistaken “wrong” answer.

– Never tell someone they are wrong. It will make them angry and put a chill into any give-and-take you might be seeking.

If they do happen to be “wrong”, let them off the hook gently: “Sometimes that is probably true…” “If you make a small adjustment, you’ll be right on…” “That’s certainly one good alternative…” “That’s the most common response I get to that question…”

So, be sure to salt in a good number of questions in your presentations. Doing this will take you from good to great as a communicator.

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