Using questions to provoke participation in training

 In Questioning Techniques

Questions Provoke Participation

A question is a useful communication tool, which is an utterance that functions as a request to information.

First: Learn how to encourage participation in training from one of our trainers personal experience

1. Learn why your team are not participating

I asked my trainees why they didn’t participate in the discussion. I received the same responses: I don’t know the answer; it’s a shame to be wrong; someone else has a better solution; I wasn’t prepared. These reasons were centered on the idea of failure, so I led a discussion about how it is acceptable to fail.

2. Let them know that their fears are not unfounded

When I realised that my fear of failure was keeping people from taking part in classes, I started displaying subtle failures in class. I admitted that I had misunderstood, apologised, and then modeled how to fix the problem. They were free to make mistakes and no longer felt afraid of being wrong. My classroom became a safe place for people to try, fail, and then try again.

3. Make it a place that encourages participation

Using questions to provoke participation

We reviewed our policies for creating a safe and collaborative environment as a class and created the following rules:

  • Respect others.
  • Be just loud enough to be heard by everyone
  • Pay attention to your coworkers.
  • Don’t Interrupt the speaker.
  • Participation is a way to answer questions, but also to ask for clarification or to get help.

I asked them to pick one rule they had struggled with, and then focus on it for the next few days. This encouraged participation. These rules and techniques helped my class have more open and respectful conversations. They also felt more comfortable taking part in the discussions.

4. Give them another outlet

If my class has not responded to the tips above, I will use a less direct method to get them involved. My trainees log into Twitter using either their class account or their own account. They then create a hashtag to join the conversation.

Second: Use Good Questions

  • Plan your questions

To help you keep track of the conversation and take notes, prepare your information goals before your meeting.

  • Understand your purpose

Each question should lead to either facts or opinions. You should know what kind of information is needed and how to frame your questions.

  • Open conversation

Open-ended questions are not like simple yes/no questions. They invite respondents to speak and allow you to collect more information. “What do your favorite things about this company?” It is more likely to yield valuable information than “Does this company appeal to you?” Another option is to ask a question using the declarative format “Tell us about that.” Sometimes people who are unable to answer questions respond better to direct orders. We often use TED which stands for Tell, Explain and Describe.

  • Speak your listener’s language.

Use words and phrases that are easily understood by your listener and relate questions to their frame of reference. Avoid industry jargon when negotiating with people outside your industry. Try rephrasing if someone doesn’t understand what you are asking.

  • Use neutral

Leading questions such as “How would you like the fantastic amenities at this conference center?” are good ones to ask, however can be unproductive. The question gives a glowing impression of the venue. Even if the person hates it, the other person won’t be likely to express any negative feelings about it. You have lost the chance to influence his feelings. You can ask a neutral question to get accurate information, or an honest opinion like “How did it feel?” It is far more useful. It really depends on your motive.

  • Answer general questions and ask specific

Create a hierarchy of questions that starts with the big picture, and then moves down to specifics with follow up questions.

  • Ask only one question

Write short questions that only cover one point to get better answers. Ask two questions if you want to learn two things.

  • Do not interrupt 

Pay attention to the complete answer to your question. Good questioning is about wanting to know the truth.

  • Transition naturally

Frame your next question by using something from the answer. Even if you have to veer off-track for a while, this shows that you are listening and not just following your agenda. It also ensures that the conversation flows easily.

Types Of Questions

  • Closed Question

Closed questions require a focused answer. Answers to closed questions may often be right or wrong. Closed questions can be used to encourage participation in conversations and are useful in research situations.

  • Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions can be questions that are not answered simply with a ‘yes’ or “no” answer. Instead, they require the respondent’s explanation.

You can see things through the eyes of a trainee by asking open-ended questions. They will give you feedback in their own words, not stock answers. Open-ended questions can be analysed using spreadsheets, you can see qualitative trends and spot elements that are notable with word cloud visualisations.

  • Rhetorical Question

Rhetorical questions can be humorous and don’t need an answer.


Teaching and learning will need you to ask questions. Good questions require creativity, patience, and thoughtfulness. You can think of different questions you could ask your trainees, as well as different ways that they might be asked. You should ask them questions that will grab their attention, stimulate their curiosity, reinforce key material, and foster active learning.

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