In any situation, questions are asked for varied purposes and one of which is to check for comprehension. Some people ask questions for clarification. Some ask to obtain answers or information. Asking questions is a skill that every facilitator should develop and master. The questions that facilitators ask to the participants may bring a dramatic change in their lives.
In every discussion, asking the right, proper questions motivates the members to come up with their own choices and solutions so these questions have to be thought out with preparation and correctly executed.
For facilitators, effective questioning technique helps assess the understanding of the participants on the discussion content, and it also gives the group members a chance to evaluate information and develop critical thinking.
In fact, effective questioning is one of the vital tools of facilitating. When the facilitator asks mind-provoking questions in a way that would encourage participation and arouse interest, the group can brainstorm intelligent answers to problems and issues raised. This they can apply in their day-to-day living by thinking through any situation.
Socratic Questioning Method
Socrates has been famous for his ideas about questioning techniques. According to him, powerful questioning techniques enable the individual to answer his own question. This method of asking questions works best when tasked to facilitate a group session or discussion, for one-on-one interaction, and even to oneself.
In Socratic method of questioning, the person does not just simply ask or throw the question but also discovers the answer for himself. In facilitating a group discussion, you have to know the answers to your questions. Otherwise, if no one from the participants knows the answer, the question will be thrown back to you and you should be prepared for that. You will learn to develop critical thinking skills yourself as you go through asking questions because you will conduct research and explore to find out the answers to your questions.
Socratic questioning method is classified into many categories. This consists of clarifying questions, questions that probe assumption, questions that seek for reason and evidence, questions about opinions or viewpoints, questions that imply implications and consequences, and questions about the question.
Facilitators may use Socratic questioning technique to bring up basic issues, assess problematic areas, help the team develop a sense of accuracy and clarity, explore creativity in their own thoughts, and increase logic.
The Art of Probing
A facilitator should manifest good probing skills in any discussion or facilitation event. Probing is the method of asking intelligent questions that are relevant to the subject at hand for the purpose of digging for more information.
Basically, there are two types of probing questions: the closed-ended and the open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions are designed to recall facts or information. These questions may be one-word answers or answerable by yes or no. Asking closed-ended questions start with Is, Are, Am, Can, Do, Does, and modal verbs such as Would, Could, and Should.
On the other hand, open-ended questions are designed o elicit more ideas and more elaboration from the person asked. It may seek to reflect or draw a conclusion. This is a preferred type of question to be asked when initiating a discussion, a conversation, and increasing participation from the team. Open-ended questions allow for a deeper understanding of the group’s objectives and draw out a person’s knowledge level.
Manner of Asking Questions
An effective facilitator does not just end at asking effective questions. Proper timing and accurate delivery are also important. For a good and effective facilitation, the APPLE technique might work best. APPLE is the acronym for asking the question, pausing to allow the participants to comprehend the question and think of an answer, picking a member to provide an answer, listening to the answer provided, and expounding or elaborating more on the answers given. More importantly, listen to the answers of the questions you asked.
In your facilitation role, you must possess the basic skill of asking good and thought-provoking questions as this will make you a competent facilitator. Not everyone has the ability to ask proper and intelligent questions but this skill can be learned and developed over time. This will encourage group participation and motivate interest from the team which will eventually lead to achieving the objectives.