How to Draw Out a Speaker with Probing Questions
One of the key duties of a meeting facilitator is to make sure participants’ ideas are understood by everyone. Probing with questions is a listening tool you can use to draw out and add depth to the speaker’s message. By asking open-ended questions, you can move the speaker beyond short answers and help him reveal more details about his topic.
Open-ended questions often begin with words like what, how, tell me, describe, and explain. Here are examples:
What are the key findings of your report?
How did you come to the conclusions mentioned in the report?
Tell me more about the idea you think will help the team.
Please describe an example to illustrate your point.
Please explain your thinking behind this recommendation.
When asking a speaker for these responses, you shouldn’t lead the speaker toward answering in a prescribed way but rather toward communicating freely. In other words, open-ended questions have no right or wrong answers.
When you probe, you’re being inquisitive. You’re not conducting an inquisition or interrogation!