When you are conducting a training session, you can use questions to open discussions, to lengthen it and/or to close it.
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To conduct a successful training session, a trainer needs to make use of various tools. Questions are one such tool. Questions can be broadly categorised into: open questions and closed questions. Depending on what you want to achieve, you can conveniently use questions to get the trainees to participate, close off a conversation/discussion, start a conversation/discussion, and to navigate discussions.
As its name suggests, open questions are used to open discussions and conversations. These questions usually start with how, why, which, what, who, when and where. Trainers can use open questions during a training session to encourage the participants to speak out more. They may also be used to gain elaborations and explanations. Below are a few examples of open questions:
- How did you decide on that?
- Why did you begin writing?
- When was the last time you talked to a stranger?
- Where shall I stop?
- Who developed this technique?
- Which of you believe in the power of body language and why?
Trainers will find it important to note that open questions will make the trainees:
- Think and reflect
- Share their feelings and opinions with others
- Be more involved and open in class
- Feel more in control
Closed questions are used to close off discussions and conversations. When the time for an activity or a discussion is over, trainers can use closed questions to signal closure to the participants. Closed questions begin with the words: who, shall, are, will, do and is. Below are a few examples of closed questions:
- Who would like to conclude this interaction?
- Shall we conduct the activity now?
- Are you aware of the process to run this program?
- Do you know how to conduct this experiment?
- Is there consensus on that?
Trainers can use closed questions to get a ‘yes’or ‘no’response from the participants, and also to guide a discussion to another topic. Closed questions have the following characteristics:
- They provide you with facts.
- They take up less time.
- People who are reserved are more willing to answer closed questions than open questions.
- The trainer retains control of the conversation.
Both open and closed questions can be used in a training session to initiate conversations and to close them off, respectively. To control communication during a class, questions can be a useful tool. There are also other kinds of questions, such as clarifying questions and probing questions, that trainers can use to manage their class more comfortably.
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