8 Open Ended Questions for Engagement

One of the best ways to get your participants involved on your conference call is to open up for questions at the end. Many times, I've seen even the most impressive presentations end up with 'no questions' at the end. I've talked before about what to do when no one asks a question on your conference and one of the tips I suggested before was to ask a friend or co-worker to be the first person to raise their hand.

Now, some may disagree with me about using a "plant" on your conferences to get the ball rolling for Q&A. I'd offer the counterpoint that it is human nature to be shy and that no one really wants to go first. Q&A is an opportunity to refine parts of the presentations and silence will hurt the chances to do so. If the co-worker or friend asks a legitimate question about the content, I don't see anything wrong with this kind of tactic.

An open ended question is one that cannot be answered with "yes" or "no". It's important that the question gives the speaker an opportunity to explain some of those finer details while giving the opportunity to spark questions in some of the other participants. Here are eight great ways to start an open ended question on your next conference.

  1. "What is the purpose of..."
  2. "Can you explain...."
  3. "How would you use..."
  4. "What judgment can we make..."
  5. "How would you estimate..."
  6. "Explain the changes that..."
  7. "How would you summarize..."
  8. "What statements support..."

These questions are great conversation starters because they are legitimate in reference to the content presented and they give the speaker that extra chance to go over those finer details or even mention something they mistakenly skipped over when going over the presentation. Additionally, I suggest only doing this once a session and only if you don't get any one else in the question queue. This is to get the conversation started, not to take it over completely. The goal of asking your co-worker to ask the first question is to open the door for others to come along behind them.

Have you ever "planted" your co-worker to ask the first question?

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AccuConference | A Small Idea to Turn To When Things Are Tough—#2 of 3

A Small Idea to Turn To When Things Are Tough—#2 of 3

In the first post in this series, we talked about how the economy is still hovering between sort of good and not good and small business owners are looking for ways to jumpstart their profits and sales. We discussed email newsletters as a way to encourage a conversation with customers as one possible solution.

In the second post, I'd like to discuss how to jumpstart a small business owner's interest in the business itself. Perhaps there is another angle on your business you haven't considered, or perhaps your business has moved past its original existence and has morphed into something else entirely.

In a recent article on Scotsman.com, as an antidote to boredom and burnout, author Peter Ranscombe suggests a life coach.

"A life coach may not be the first person a small business turns to when times get tough. But James McKim, one of Scotland's leading practitioners, thinks companies should treat coaches as trusted advisers, in the same way they would an accountant or solicitor – and he's not the only one who thinks so."

Now, before you panic, a life coach is not voodoo. A life coach is not even a therapist. A life coach is someone who takes stock of where you are in your life, what your goals are, and helps to match up the day-to-day activities between the two. A life coach won't fix your family issues nor will it save your marriage (unless you get that work/life balance down and rekindle the romance with your significant other), but it will help you to find ways to deal with your business as it affects you on a daily basis.

"McKim's training for small businesses runs from skills such as resolving conflict and public speaking through to tips for managing stress or achieving a balance between work and life. ‘It's business coaching but incorporating sales training.'"

Interested? Good. But let's say you're not really into a life coach, but want to learn how to be more objective about your business and its impact on your life. Two books might help: Arlie Russell Hochschild's Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Becomes Work and Michael Port's Beyond Booked Solid: Your Business, Your Life, Your Way—It's All Inside.

Addendum: Port's first book, Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even If You Hate Marketing and Selling is also really good.

Moral of the story: Maybe the solution you're looking for is already there and you just need poke around a bit inside in order to find it.

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