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The Power of Questions

When it comes to communicating effectively in English, asking questions can be a very powerful tool.

In this video, I explain why asking questions is so important, and provide some useful phrases to help you form your own questions.

All the best!


Here is the full transcript:

Hi, this is Paul from Great to have you here. Don’t forget to subscribe. And today, coming up in just second, I’m going to be talking about questions, why they are so important, and how to use them effectively.

Sometimes when learning English, you really focus on different grammatical structures, on learning different verbs, on learning different vocabulary. All of that is really important. But what about questions? Are you focusing enough on questions? Why are questions so important anyway?

Well, there’s a number of different reasons. One of them is that questions really help to build conversations, and they really help to generate interaction. Imagine if you are just talking to someone, and I’m sure all of us have been in this situation, where the other person just doesn’t answer anything back, they just don’t say anything, they just don’t make any comments whatsoever. Well, how does that make you feel? You may feel as if you are talking to a brick wall. What if no one is really listening?

Questions from the other person, or even questions from you, can help to create that interaction. Conversation should be a two-way process. It should be going from one person, or one party, to the other and back again. And questions help us to achieve that, don’t they? So I would really encourage to include many more questions in your conversation. Using questions helps you to show interest in what the other person is saying.

You can just perhaps briefly, ever so subtly, interrupt someone when they’re speaking and say, “Hey, could you just explain that a little bit further please?” or, “Could you just tell me some more about that particular topic?” That is really going to help you to show your interest in that person. When you show interest in someone else, they’re going to show interest back to you. That’s going to propel the conversation even further.

People are often afraid to ask questions because of the fear that they might either sound stupid or appear interfering or annoying. Well, normally that is not the case. Normally, in most cases, the person on the receiving end of the question is actually going to be quite happy to receive and answer your question because it promotes that interaction. We all, as human beings, crave that interaction, that feedback, that approval. That’s what questioning enables us to do. So next time you’re thinking about asking a question in English, go ahead and do it.

Of course, you don’t want to over do it. You don’t want to be the person who asks, “How much did we sell in January? How can we beat the competition? Where is the meeting? When can I expect a pay raise? What new strategy should we be considering? When did she resign? Could I make a presentation to the managers?” Well, you don’t want to overload the person with questions. But you can choose your questions carefully, and that will really help you to promote your conversation.

Okay, so as a non-native speaker of English, how can you create and prepare questions to ask in these situations? Well, I think the key word there was prepare. You can prepare these questions beforehand. One of the easiest structures within the English language with which to create questions is to use the w, or the wh, questions. I’m referring, of course, to the words where, why, when, how, who, and which. Those words can be used to start and create questions very easily. Let me give you a few examples.

What time is the meeting? What time is the meeting? When are the Q3 results expected? When are the Q3 results expected? Q3 is, of course, quarter three. How many people are going to present at the conference? How many people are going to present at the conference? Why is the competition faster than us? Why is the competition faster than us? Who is going to be the new boss? Who is going to be the new boss? Which qualification is the most useful? Which qualification is the most useful?

Okay, so I know that’s just a few brief examples. What I would encourage you to do is to try and prepare some questions in advance. So next time you are going to a presentation or next time you are going to a meeting and you know that you are going to be speaking in English or that you are going to have the opportunity to speak in English, then why not write out some questions beforehand? Ask a native speaker to help you check them. That will give you much more confidence going into the live situation, whether that is a presentation or a meeting or something else.

Well, I hope you found that useful. Remember, questions can be an amazing tool in your English language armory. Don’t forget to use them. Don’t forget to prepare them. Don’t forget to practice them. Thanks so much for listening. I’m Paul Urwin, Don’t forget to subscribe. All the best.

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