Published Author Category Frontier RTP

This month, Brian Alvo, founder of NextGen Center, led a thought-provoking session on “The Surprising Power of Questions.” Not only did he teach tactics on how to ask questions effectively, Brian also proved their power with the number of connections he made in just 50 minutes.

Brian took our group through three exercises on closed and open questions. He encouraged interactions between attendees by pairing them up to ask and answer questions. Brian asked each person to write down the first word of each question they were asked, then used those words to illustrate the difference between open and closed questions.

Closed questions lead with words like do, will and are, and often produce yes or no answers. Open questions lead with words like who, why, how or what, and often produce answers that build knowledge, awareness, and gain trust. No matter your profession, asking questions should be seen as a skill that can foster a higher quality of interaction, enhance the quality of relationships, and increase one’s self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

My Key Takeaways

Often, speaker events like this one can be quiet. While attendees may leave with a lot of information, they are not guaranteed to make any personal connections. Brian’s charismatic presentation ensured that even though I was sitting in the back of the room, I had a front row seat to all the action. Even more impressive was that at the conclusion of his talk, most of the participants were still sitting at their tables and networking with each other–they didn’t want to leave.

Other thoughts:

  • How and what are the two leading words for questions that are meant to expand relationships with people.
  • Why is not a desirable way to start a question because it leads with a judgmental vibe. The use of why can sometimes lead people towards defensive position, and your tone is just as important as wording the question effectively.

Learn more about Brian Alvo’s work, and please join us next month at Frontier RTP for On The Menu: {Agile for Entrepreneurs}, led by Jim Morgan of Full Stack Scrum. Jim will show us how creating formal processes and structures can help startups move faster without wasting money or wearing out teammates.