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How to ask a question

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It's hard to ask good questions. This presentation describes the structure, phrasing and sequencing required for effective questions

Published in: Design

How to ask a question

  1. 1. How to ask a question
  2. 2. 2 • Easily understood • No longer than it needs to be • Takes account of what’s been said or done previously • Thought-provoking A good question is…
  3. 3. What’s the syntax of a question? Subject: what are we talking about? Query: what do you want to know about it? Questions have two parts
  4. 4. Let’s talk about ice cream Subject: what are we talking about? Subject and query are best separated
  5. 5. What’s your favourite flavour? Query: what do you want to know about it? Subject and query are best separated
  6. 6. Let’s talk about ice cream What’s your favourite flavour? Subject and query are best separated
  7. 7. The next thing I’m going to ask you about is front doors, which is something that we’ll talk about now, and then later on in the interviews, but in the meantime I want to ask you about it initially. What colour’s yours? Subject shouldn’t be too long
  8. 8. The next thing I’m going to ask you about is front doors, which is something that we’ll talk about now, and then later on in the interview, but in the meantime I want to ask you about it initially. So. What colour’s your front door? Subject shouldn’t be too long
  9. 9. Let’s talk about ice cream What’s your favourite flavour? Avoid assumptions: establish relevance
  10. 10. Do you like ice cream? What’s your favourite flavour? Let’s talk about ice cream Subject Relevance Query Avoid assumptions: establish relevance
  11. 11. Do you like ice cream? What’s your favourite flavour? Relevance Query Subject Avoid assumptions: establish relevance
  12. 12. Let’s talk about going on holiday Have you been away this summer? Where to? Yes Lisbon Create question chains
  13. 13. What made you choose Lisbon? Why did you choose Lisbon? What drew you to Lisbon? How come Lisbon? Where to? Yes Lisbon
  14. 14. What drew you to Lisbon? Where to? Yes Lisbon It was a great deal, and it’s a bit unusual
  15. 15. What drew you to Lisbon? Where to? Lisbon It was a great deal, and it’s a bit unusual ‘Authentic’ ‘Fresh’ ‘Exclusive’ ‘Gritty’ ‘Accessible’ ‘My kind of place’
  16. 16. What drew you to Lisbon? Where to? Lisbon It was a great deal, and it’s a bit unusual When you say ‘unusual’…?
  17. 17. It was a great deal, and it’s unusual When you say ‘unusual’…? … Earlier, you described it as ‘unusual’, but you’ve just said it’s ‘predictable’ I chose Lisbon because it’s predictable
  18. 18. Let’s talk about going on holiday Have you been away this summer? Where to? When you say ‘unusual’…? Earlier, you described it as ‘unusual’, but you’ve just said it’s ‘predictable’ Subject Relevance Query Probe Challenge
  19. 19. A good question • Easily understood • No longer than it needs to be • Situated in a chain • A reflection of what’s been said previously • Draws on participant’s own language • Thought-provoking
  20. 20. What’s the perfect question?
  21. 21. Question chains Different for every interviewee Showing, not asking Your own style Silence

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