The types of questions you ask can have a huge impact on your participants’ engagement and ability to participate. By asking questions in the right way for each person, you can adapt your approach to support each participant’s abilities, ensuring that everyone is able to contribute to the conversation and feels included and valued. Here are four different kinds of questions that you should be aware of:
1) Open Questions
Open questions can be answered in a variety of ways, and that don’t have a single, correct answer. These are useful, to encourage people to share in whatever way they are able, but they can also be difficult for some participants to process and respond to.
2) Closed Questions
Closed questions have a targeted answer. These can also be useful in programs, especially when a small number of choices is offered – for someone who has difficulty finding words or processing a more complex answer, answering with a yes or no, or selecting between two choices is much easier. Always try to avoid fact-based questions, as this sets up an unnecessary challenge, and can cause stress for people who don’t know the right answer.
3) Leading Questions
In between are leading questions, where there are multiple answers that will work, but participants are guided in the ways that they might answer.
4) Supporting Questions
In our context, a supported question is one that helps the participant to be successful in sharing their own ideas and opinions in a way that works for them. It provides enough space for individuality, but still accommodates their abilities as much as needed. Supported questioning in a group is a way of including everyone in the conversation, by asking for similar information from each participant, but asking in a way that is suitable for the individual.