In 1988, President Ronald Reagan began his speech to the Gridiron Club by saying “Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement.”
Most facilitators have been tempted by this sentiment – just listen and don’t ask me anything. But effective facilitators know that questions can be the lifeblood of learning. Not only do questions from the audience show that brains are engaged, they let us know where the comprehension or attitude gaps exist.
I encourage questions in many ways during my professional learning activities but recently encountered a very reluctant group. After exhausting my repertoire to methods, I had a creative inspiration that worked so well!
I quickly created a slide as seen here and informed the learners they would be sent to a breakout room for three minutes. They were to choose a facilitator and develop a question beginning with the assigned question word. (For an in-person session, assign a word to each table group.) I then pulled everyone back together after a few minutes and asked for their questions. This strategy yielded rich, interesting discussion on our topic.
BTW, I usually randomly assign a facilitator for any experience like this so that someone will quickly take the lead and ensure the task is completed. Ideas for facilitator assignment can be as simple as whichever person is tallest, most experienced, owns the most pets, wearing the brightest color, or ate takeout most recently.
For more creative ideas, check out my book Caffeinated Training Design or contact me to customize a session for you.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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