Are You Asking the Right Questions?
How thoughtful, goal-driven questions can propel your event (and career) forward
Can you remember your last first date?
When the conversation awkwardly lulled, did you automatically start asking the person across the table questions? And when we prompted this question to you just now, did your mind automatically go back to the dingy, dimly lit restaurant where your last first date was held, whether you wanted to or not––for even just a moment?
Questions are critical in directing dialogue. On top of steering the conversation in a particular direction (instead of just passively seeing where the talk wanders), according to research in neuroscience, asking a question forces the answerer to instinctively elaborate. In other words, when someone asks you something, no matter how simple, your brain simply can’t think about anything else. And for event planners, frequent, insightful questions can help move your events (and your career) forward.
Wondering how you can ask more of those “frequent, insightful” questions? So glad you asked!
At Your Next Event
Asking your clients questions during the pre-planning phase is standard. How many people will be attending? What time of the day will the event be held? But by reading between the lines and positioning questions to your clients that are unique to them and their business, you can create an event that is far more dynamic.
Consider asking questions that will force them to pause and reflect. For example:
• At your last event, what would you say went wrong?
• Is there something attendees do that drives you absolutely crazy?
• Fun, educational or motivational: Which is the most important to you?
Although you can certainly prep a list of questions like these before your first meeting, try to stay on your toes throughout the initial meeting, searching for cues of like/dislike and tailoring your responses.
In Your Career
Outside of meeting with your clients and event partners, asking the right questions can propel your career forward, too.
Think back to the last big presentation you were forced to sit through. Although it’s easy to assume it was the content that made it a real dud, did the presenter make you think about something, even once? By posing the right questions to a crowd, you can engage people––not just talk in front of them.
For example, maybe you’re presenting at a career event and you don’t want them to answer right away, but you want your audience to mentally gravitate toward a subject to eventually make your point.
Asking your audience to recall the last presentation that went very, very poorly will transport them back to that particular meeting––the day, the subject of the discussion, who they might've been sitting next to. But by then transitioning the question to “What do you think the presenter could’ve done differently that day?”, attendees are forced to take a deeper, more intrinsic dive into their memory, paying closer attention to how the presentation made them feel.
Even if it’s just a simple question about an opinion, getting your audience to engage can make you more memorable in the long term.