There’s a lot to be learned by asking the right questions. Simple questioning will help you to get better connected to what your reader wants to know.
I was introduced to questioning when I first became a sales person and then later in coaching school, we were drilled in asking the right questions and then shutting up to actively listen to the response.
When I am with a client and we are considering how to outline the book or brainstorming blog ideas for the book, I ask the question – what questions is your ideal reader asking?
We explore what that means. We often think our ideal reader is asking certain things, however we need to explore and discover what are the right questions, rather than what we think the right questions are. When we have the right questions then we can dig deeper and create the book outline and generate useful blog content.
There are several steps to using questions that are useful to you as a writer.
- One is understanding the art of simple questioning
- Two is gleaning the right questions
- Three is how to use questions in your content
The Art Of Simple Questioning
In this article, we are going to look at the art of simple questioning. This might be going back to basics for you but getting your foundations right will help you with step two and three. In other articles, we will be expanding how to use these questions in your content, exploring other kinds of questions and how they can support the process of writing or blogging your book.
Types of Questions
These are useful in getting another person to speak or think. They often begin with the words: What, Why, When, Who, Where and How. Sometimes they are statements: “tell me about”, “give me examples of”. They can provide you and your reader with a good deal of information.
Use these to elicit what is worrying your ideal reader in your reader research.
These are questions that require a yes or no answer and are useful for checking facts. They should be used with care – too many closed questions in a coaching scenario can cause frustration and shut down the conversation and thinking.
Use these in quick and short surveys and perhaps a poll in your group.
These are used to determine facts. For example, “How much did you spend on books each month?”
Use these to get evidence to back up a point.
These check for more detail or clarification. Probing questions allow you to explore specific areas. However, be careful because they can easily make people feel they are being interrogated “Why did you do that first?”
Use these to expand your other questions so that you can be sure that you can address the right issues in your book or blog.
These pose a theoretical situation in the future. For example, “What would you do if…?’ These can be used to get others to think of new situations. They can also be used in to find out how people might cope with new situations.
Use these to engage with your reader, invite them to question themselves and to inspire them to explore further.
You can use these to reflect back what you think someone has said to check understanding. You can also reflect someone’s feelings, which is useful in dealing with difficult or emotional situations. “On reflection what could have been done better?”
Use these again to invite further exploration so that you can get clarity.
Basic Exploratory Questions
When you write your book or blogs you want your readers to gain facts, understand concepts and make connections. You also want to encourage creativity, imaginative thought, awaken awareness, and develop critical thinking.
When you look at these simple questioning types reflect on your experiences and start asking these kinds of questions in your journal so that when you come to create the content in your book and blogs, you will know how to use them more effectively.
Factual; Divergent; Convergent; Evaluative; Questions
You are simply asking for facts. You want to solicit reasonably simple, straight forward answers based on obvious facts or awareness. These are usually your lowest level and foundational questions. These are like the specific questions described above.
Example: What is your vision statement? What is your book about? How long have you been writing?
Divergent is about generating ideas before you bring them together (converge) and create a solution. Mind mapping and brainstorming are wonderful ways to get at the answers. These questions invite you to expand and stretch your thinking.
These are like the probing, hypothetical and reflective questions where you are inviting exploration. Here you are inviting your readers to analyse or evaluate something and potentially project or predict outcomes. These open up possibilities and opportunities for learning.
Example: What are some of the alternative ways that you could get your book written quickly? With regard to your decision to write this book how do you think it will support the vision, you have for your business? What is another way of looking at this?
Convergent means coming closer together. Imagine two roads converging together to form one. This is where lots of ideas and concepts are brought together to form a conclusion.
These get you thinking and they will deepen your comprehension and analysis of something. Our goal is to narrow down, refine or hone in on your ideas These questions usually have a single answer.
Example: On reflection how do you think your values contribute to your vision statement? What is the overall theme of your chapter/book/blog?
An evaluative question is useful for asking the reader if they agree or disagree with your point of view, using their own knowledge, values and experience as the basis for the response.
As the name suggests the reader analyses things from multiple perspectives before arriving at a conclusion. You are basically asking your reader to ‘think it through’. You want your reader to evaluate what you have written so that they become an active part of your book or blog.
Example: Why and how might the concept of x be related to the concepts of y and why might this be important when …?
Naturally you can ask all of these in combination with each other.
My invitation is for you to start asking the right questions of not only yourself but your potential ideal readers so that when you come to outline your book and create the content for it and your blogs you are answering what they want to know, and not what you think they want to know.
What can you do today to open up the portal to knowing what your reader is really asking?
If writing a book is on your do now list…
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- Strategy and Intuitive Guidance Coaching Session – 45 minutes – £99 (book)
- Insight and Clarity Session – £150 (book)
- 3-hour plan your book call £295 (book)
- 121 Coaching Packages available for 3 or 6 months – contact me
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