Asking effective questions is an art, and the quality of the answers you get depends on the quality of the questions you ask. Plaetos forum questions can be focused on a single topic, or a range of sub-topics, and will determine the direction that the forum takes.
Open questions are most effective for opening-up conversations and discussions. They let participants give feedback in their own words, and give room for unique or unanticipated responses.
The opposite is a closed question, which can only be answered with a "yes" or "no". This limits the scope of the discussion. Not what you want when you need to get to the heart of an issue and understand why.
A closed question is something like:
Do you feel angry about this issue?
Whereas an open question would sound like:
How do you feel about this issue?
After you set up your forum, it's important to keep asking open questions while you're running your discussions. This is because they:
- Encourage participants to include more information, feelings, attitudes and understanding to the subject being discussed (which gives you better data as well)
- Encourage participants to explain if they do not understand the question or do not have an opinion on an issue
- Make it easier for the Facilitator to ask for additional information, or to dive deeper into participants' responses
It's important to keep in mind that participants will feel more psychologically safe in the forum if they are encouraged to respond freely, so they feel they "own" the conversation.
Remember: Not everyone has English as a first language so be conscious of your language (e.g. try not to use colloquialisms or slang). Keep it simple.
The questions you ask are designed to get people talking. In the end, it's the participants who drive the discussion. As the Facilitator, you will guide the discussion, bringing it back into focus when necessary to keep it moving forward, while exploring different points of view on surprising issues that may emerge.