When conducting training, your participants want to be involved. You can give them the opportunity to share their experiences and demonstrate what they are learning by asking questions along the way. The direction of the question will assist in getting the participation you desire. Here are three types of questions you can use.
When you want to review course content that has already been covered, or ask about experiences that your participants have had, try using an overhead question. This open-ended question is asked to the entire group. For example, “What positive customer service experiences have you had as a customer?” Once you ask, wait for someone to reply. If no one gives an answer after ten seconds, consider giving a hint or rephrasing the question.
Sometimes the learners want to get the perspective of others in the group rather than always getting the answer from the instructor. In situations where that can be achieved, consider using a relay question. Start with a question asked by a participant. Get the perspective of the group by directing it to them as an overhead question and give them the opportunity to answer. The participant’s question might be, “Jim, how would you handle a participant who is always late?” I would then turn to the group and say something like, “Group, how have you handled participants who are always late?”
The opportunity for a reverse question comes about when a participant asks a question, and the details of that question lead you to believe what is being described:
- Has already happened
- Is currently happening
- May happen in the near future
You simply say to the participant, "Well, what would you do in a situation like that?"
Usually, the response is as follows:
- “It happened, and here's what I did...”
- “It's happening right now, and I'm currently...”
- “It may happen, and I'm thinking I could...”
In rare situations, the participant may insist that you answer as they have asked you for information. If that happens, simply answer the question and offer to talk with that person more in depth on a break or after class.
Using these question techniques will keep your participants involved while adding variety to your discussions. Typically, we answer questions for our participants, but also having them answer some questions themselves helps them think about and process the content in a different way. If you would like to learn even more about asking engaging questions, attend our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop.