When helping clients lead better meetings, I’m sometimes asked “What are some good questions to ask in meetings?” Of course, it depends on the purpose of the meeting and what you want to learn. But, here are a few questions I use often and the thinking behind each question.
These questions are simple, but there’s a particular phrasing I use to invite engagement. Word choices make a difference.
- What’s on your mind? This question opens the conversation in a broad way, with minimal assumptions. Contrast this with “How can I help?” which assumes that the other person is looking for help and in particular is looking for help from you. “What’s on your mind?” allows the other person to speak freely, without having to fit in your idea about what the direction of the conversation should be.
- What’s most important? As the conversation continues, it can start to wander. Asking for the priority or goal helps to focus the conversation and will often lead to exploring important tasks or obstacles, without getting lost in the weeds.
- What questions do you have? When we’ve covered a lot of content or to wrap up a discussion, I often ask this question. As a facilitator, this is one of my favourites as it assumes there are questions. Compare this question with the typical “Do you have any questions?” The latter invites a Yes/No response and may indicate you don’t really want any questions. When asking the question, show your openness with matching body language (palms up with your hands away from your body at about hip or table height) and eye contact.
After you’ve asked any one of these questions, remember to pause long enough for the other person to think of their answer!
If you want to learn more about leading great meetings, check out Meetings without Misery on our workshops page.