EGP Wiki: Conversation Tools- Open questions

 This wiki was created for an EGP steering committee retreat I faciliated in 2011.

To the EGP steering committee:

When I faciliate sessions I ask open-ended questions to give you an opportunity to share and reflect. One of my mentors says “never talk for more than 5 mintues at the beginning of the session if you want rich interaction. Everyone assumes if you’ve got 10 minutes of dazzling material, you’ve got 50.” I think this can be applied to transform meetings into rich conversations. I also think it’s a skill groups can practice themselves- no need to wait for the consultant to show up once a year.

The “what?”
“so what?”
“now what?”

is a simple formula I use when interviewing people or in group discussions. I also tend to go back to what I learned as a beginning counselor: clarify (ask questions to make sure you understand), paraphrase to reflect back (and leave space for clarification) and probe for implications and analysis.

Here’s some example questions you can ask each other during your steering committee meetings.

What?
What did you learn?
What did you do? What were the activities?
What were the goals?
What happened? What didn’t happen?
What needs did this project fill?
What underlies those needs?
What’s the context?
What’s sticks out in your mind? What do you keep thinking/wondering about?
What surprised you? What didn’t you expect?

So What?
What difference did it make?
What was important about this approach/experiment/project?
How do you feel about it? (What excites/disappoints/scares/bores you?)
Why is this important?
What are the implications?
So what does this mean for our work, our organization, our volunteer program, what policy we advise on?

Now What?
What are the next steps?
What needs to change?
Where are the key opportunities are for development?
What do you want to build on?
What would you leave out?
Now what do we do?
Is there an opportunity for trying it out/experiment?
What do we need to explore more?
Who might know more about this?
What resources can we apply to this?
Who could be invited to this experiment?
What do we expect to happen?
What do we fear might happen?

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