Asking Questions— What Broadcast Journalism Taught Me
I spent 17 plus years as a broadcast journalist. My career was dependent on one thing,asking questions. If I didn’t ask questions –a lot of them during interviews– my stories would go nowhere. We all need details. As a journalist it was always the five W’s…who, what, when, where and why. And if you throw in the how, you were on track for a great story. Leave out any one of those questions and your story can fall flat. It’s much the same in business communications. We can’t advance projects without knowing the answers to a myriad of questions. A critical detail lost can mean a project doesn’t advance, or a new client is not secured.
This seems elementary but it’s a good reminder. With that in mind, consider adding these three basic tips to your list when you are seeking information to advance a project, write a report or seek new business.
Ask open-ended questions.
Those are questions where you want to elicit more information, such as “Tell me more about….” A closed question is one that hit me in the face early in my career when I was selling radio advertising. I approached a store owner and asked him if he wanted to buy some radio advertising. His response was…No!” I was frozen and didn’t know what to do. But I learned from that.
Ask follow-up questions for more clarification.
It could be as simple as, “what makes you say that?” or “could you further define that?”More clarity is always helpful
The power of silence.
Many times you will ask a question and there is a pause. Don’t start thinking negative thoughts that it is a bad question or that you should state it again. Many times a person will be sorting through their thought process to properly answer the question, so be patient.
In summary, remember that questions are paramount in any two-way conversation and if you want good answers you need to ask good questions.