Have you considered a question?


A few weeks ago, I was asked to present for a group of CX professionals on leveraging data in their work, like telling people that the floor is made out of floor. It felt so contentious that I would describe what they needed to do as yet another white man.

The issue with telling other people what to do is that there is one certainty: you do not get any wiser out of it. Since it is just you telling people what you already know while hoping that it is somewhat relevant for them.

You do not precisely know what is relevant for the people you are presenting to, even when they have told you what they would like to know. You do not know their exact background, what they already have done, what they could do and why they are here. So why assume that your slides with statements are relevant.

You don’t always have to be the smartest person in the world.
It is better and easier to be the best at explaining things.
That local maximum will get a better outcome most of the time than absolute brilliance if there is no ability to recreate or incept that idea in others.

Garry Tan

Enter: questions

Questions are way more fun than making statements about how the world is. Since you are never talking about THE world, you are talking about how you see the world and what worked for you. It is survivor bias in the purest form.

However, when asking questions, you trigger your audience to apply their domain knowledge differently. If you can help people to rethink their reality and open their minds, you are doing a better job than telling people what to do while they do not know why they should do it.

Ask the big questions:

  • How would it look like if X
  • What is the 1 thing
  • If you are wrong and the others are right, what does it mean
  • How do you know what to do, if nobody tells you
  • If you did not know anything about this, what would it mean

It is not about forcing people to your answer with your questions. It is about being naturally curious and opening doors, even doors that are closed for you, since what is more beautiful than while you are helping others to discover and learn that you are on precisely the same journey with them.

Next time you have to explain something to experts. Consider not presenting with statements. Explore it together with them with questions. You do not have to have all the answers since you will discover better ones together.