An effective seminar is one that gives both the facilitator and the audience the opportunity to ask questions. Asking the right questions paves the way for better communication and exchange of information. Having said that, seminar facilitators could benefit largely from the use of questioning techniques and these will be further discussed in this section.
What Questions Can Do for You?
Questions are very powerful. Questions provide great benefits to the one asking them. These are as follows:
- It puts you in control. When you ask the right questions at the right time, it puts you in control of the situation. It makes the audience realize who is the boss or the person in authority. Moreover, questioning also makes them feel that you really know what you are talking about.
- It gives you information. There are questions that can help you understand the audience better. It also gives you an idea about what their expectations are and what they want to achieve in the seminar. If you construct your questions well, you could get valuable information about your audience.
- It helps you check listening comprehension. Checking in on your audience is important when giving a presentation, and one good way to find out if they are on the same page as you or if they understand the discussion is to ask them questions. This way you can determine if you need to reiterate or review your presentation or proceed to the next one.
- It can be used to persuade others. There are certain questioning techniques that are used indirectly to persuade others. These questions work by leading the other person to think or agree with your idea.
Techniques Used for Effective Questioning
- Probing Questions: Using the probing technique lets you get more details from the audience. It is a good way to get to know them better, such as what they are thinking or the things they are interested in. Examples are: “And then what happened?” and “So after you spoke with your boss about it, he told you to gather the team?”
- Rhetorical Questions: These are questions that do not have answers because it may be too obvious, implied, or already given by the questioner. Many public speakers use rhetorical questions to spark interest, emphasize/prove a point, make the audience laugh, as well as to gain agreement. Examples are: “Is the sky blue?” and “Is it cold during winter?”
- Leading Questions: As mentioned above, leading questions are used to persuade the listeners to accept your ideas or viewpoints. It is a type of questioning technique that helps to influence thinking. Examples of leading questions are: “Do you agree that a happy workplace makes people more productive?” “Would you want to work on your own or with a team, where productivity level is higher?”
- Socratic Questions: The Socratic method of questioning is used primarily to elicit learning from the audience or the listener. It can be a question to clarify a concept (ex. “What do you mean by that?”), probe on an assumption (ex. “How did you come up with that assumption?”), or question a perspective (ex. “Why is it better?”).
Tips to More Effective Questioning
If you want to maximize on the benefits of asking questions, you have to master the art of questioning. You can start this by first becoming comfortable with the idea of asking questions. A lot of people do not like asking questions and as a result, they fumble and ask multiple questions at a time, which makes the whole thing awkward and ineffective.
Once confidence has been established, keep the following tips in mind:
- Ask only one question at a time. Make the question clear and understandable by the audience.
- Once you have asked the question, wait for the person to answer. You have to be patient and resist the urge to say anything.
- Do not interrupt the person answering the question. Let this person finish and wait one or two seconds after the answer is given, before you utter a word.
- Make a follow-up question that should be related to the topic. This will make the other person feel that you are interested in eliciting answers from them.