In response to my post about the value of questions in communication, I received a comment asking for specific questions. This posting is in answer to the comment.
Questions are powerful in a presentation when you are presenting findings or recommendations. You might begin a presentation recommending steps to increase quality by asking, “If we were to institute just one change to improve quality, what do you think that change would be?” or “If we could make just one change to improve quality by 10%, would you be interested?” Any time your presentation involves material that might sound like a lecture, try using questions like these to engage the audience.
When you enter a meeting or negotiation, you can ask, “How can we meet both of our goals with this policy?” or “What key things have to happen for you to be satisfied with the outcome of this meeting (or policy or negotiation)?
In a networking situation, one question is especially powerful, “How will I know when I’m talking to someone who is a prospect for you?” Another choice: “What types of people are you hoping to meet tonight?”
In sales, questions are the key to finding out how to connect with customers. For example, “What are the main challenges you are facing in the business right now?” will tell where the customer is willing to invest money.
Finally, in an training environment, questions help to engage participants. Leading workshops on persuasive communication, I often ask participants, “Do you think persuasion is a science or an art? Is it something that can be learned?” This is a perfect way to begin a conversation before I present material based on research.
Questions are a powerful to engage others. Pay attention to how the persuasive people you know use questions. Experiment. Chances are you’ll add some power to your communication!