On our PTT Train the Trainer courses we cover the five pillars of assessment, one of which is ‘Questioning”.  Questioning is a must in any form of training delivery, particularly if you want to engage. However, one of the most common problems I see is when questioning becomes a question for the sake of a question, more commonly it’s a closed question, or the way it is handled makes it a waste of time.

Let me break it down slightly; why do we use the question in the first place?  Well, a good question gets the brain thinking and should prompt answers that are stimulating, promote further discussion with examples and experience which are leading to the key learning point.  Every good trainer doesn’t just ask random questions, they are always crafted deliberately to get to the key learning point and also the way they are handled is crucial because this further strengthens the learning process; I like to look at a well-crafted question being broken into parts like we are taking a journey:

The Question – This is where we are headed.

The Answer – This is us at the destination.

The Handling of the Answer – This is where we’ve just been and are going next.

It’s crucial then that questions are well crafted to achieve the parts of the journey, especially when learning how to first use questions in training delivery; here then are my 4 “musts” that will help you get questions that are effective and engaging when you deliver training:

Plan the Questions – Experienced trainers are skilled at using questions dynamically to get to where they need, but this takes time and practice.  Many new trainers will plan their delivery and write “Question” on their preparation, but when they stand up, they forget the question entirely.  I always recommend in preparation to have some great questions written down in front of you, so you always have them to hand if you need them.

Word the Questions Correctly – Making sure you have your questions planned will keep you on track and will also make sure you word them correctly.  Using the 4 W’s (Why, When, Where, What) and “How” will help you make sure the question is Open and not a Closed yes or no answer.

Handle the Questions properly – As previously touched on, a massively important aspect of the whole question “Journey”.  When getting a correct answer to a question, it’s so important to use the 2C’s (Compliment, Complement).  We “Compliment” the person for the answer giving motivation and confidence and then further expand (add-to) the answer with the “Complement” which should be the key learning point.  Use language like “Excellent answer Claire, it is the ‘X’, and it’s so essential for you too because…”  If you don’t get the answer, you are aiming at first, for making sure you rephrase/ask someone else to not de-motivate individuals.

Plan a Logical Flow – Your key learning points should always have a logical flow so, therefore, so should your questions.  You may hear experienced trainers say a lot, “Which leads me nicely onto…”, that’s no coincidence you know!

It’s always a pleasure on any PTT Train the Trainer course to see how questioning technique skills develop so quickly over the two days and how confident people feel when they finally get out of “Tell” mode by “Throwing the Monkey”.

Scott Fraser is a Master Trainer at Target Training and delivers our PTT Train the Trainer courses and our Advanced PTT Train the Trainer courses.  You can read more about him here.