Friday, May 16, 2008

Any Questions?

Here is a tip from one of my favourite websites - .

"Most participants' brains seem to stop functioning when you invite them to ask questions. They all become suddenly bashful and avoid eye contact.

Possible causes: fear of asking a foolish question or appearing to be the only confused person in the room.

Suggested solution: Give everyone an index card. Ask participants to write a question which a confused person may ask. Then ask participants to turn the card with the written side down and pass it to someone else. Participants continue passing the cards in random fashion until you yell "Stop!" after about 15 seconds. Make sure everyone has a card. Now select a participant at random and ask her to read the question on the card. Suggest that the participant may pretend to read the card -- but actually ask his or her own question. Give a brief answer and continue by selecting another participant."

You can use this part way through a program to bring out unasked questions or to find your muddiest point and use it as an opportunity for you as the facilitator to answer. You could also use this as a review and ask participants to answer the question on the card they receive.

Two more ways I have used a version of this....

1- at the beginning of training ask individuals to write down questions they have about the topic on the index cards. Then collect the cards. At the end of the first day, hand out the cards again and ask anyone to share a question that had been answered that day. If they don't volunteer what that answer was, ask another participant to. At the end of the multiple day event (usually 3 days for me) you as the facilitator read remaining questions, asking participants if the question was answered and if not, answering it then and there - showing that you care about meeting their needs.

2- at the end of the session, hand out postcards instead of index cards (lots of free ones can be found in public places or ordered from companies like ) and ask each participant to write down one question that remains unanswered for them. Tell them to write that question in their notes too. Collect the postcards and advise participants you are going to mail them back to them in 2 weeks to see if they found the answer to their question. Offer that if the question isn't answered by then, they can call you for free and get help with the answer. By leaving class with a question - most participants find their answer from applying the material - a good boost for the value of your program. In many years of facilitation, I have only had 3 questions remain unanswered by participants.

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