The problem with Open Questions

24th November 2020

Everyone knows Open Questions are better than closed. They lead to a better, richer answer.


Sometimes a question can be ‘too open’.

For example, I recently attended a webinar where the host asked “so what do any of you think about any of that?”

Nobody replied. It was too open. The host hadn’t been clear about the topic they wanted answering; nor the person(s) they wanted to answer it.

Instead of going ‘too open’, it’s better to think CL.OP:

  • CL – ask a CLosed question to get them speaking
  • OP – and then a related OPening question, to get the value

For example:

   You: (CL) Which of these three ideas do you think is best?
   Them: #2
   You: (OP) Why’s that?
   Them: (Good answer)
   You: (CL) And what’s the best thing about it?
   Them: X
   You: (OP) Why will that be so valuable?

See how it works? The CL gets them talking. The OP gets the value.

Another way to CLose a question is to use someone’s name.

For example, “I’d like to hear everyone’s views on this. But let’s start with Susan. What do you think, Susan – (CL) do you like this or not?… (OP) Why’s that?”

All of which leads to me asking you two questions…

Action Point

  • (CL) Do you think this technique is useful?
  • (OP) So, when are you first going to use it today?


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