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Lesson 9. Interact with Audiences > Create Dialogue with Open-Ended Questions - Pg. 38

Interact with Audiences 38 Example: --How many sales offices do you think our organization operates in the United States? The last question may elicit no response at all; unless people are positive of the answer they're not likely to raise their hands for fear of looking foolish. Plain English Close-ended questions have only one correct answer or a brief one- or two-word response. Create Dialogue with Open-Ended Questions If you want to begin a dialogue with your listeners and elicit a meaningful response from them, you must ask open-ended questions. Plain English Open-ended questions have no right or wrong answers or one-word responses. They ask for listeners' opinions, attitudes, feelings, and experiences. For example, one speaker was talking to an audience about ways to expand the use of their tele- phones at home. This would enable them to do more work from a home office. He discussed such things as using the phone for fax transmissions and Internet access, and adding an answering machine. After presenting his central message, the speaker asked his listeners a question: How are you currently using your telephone? This was an open-ended question. Everyone in the audience could answer it because all of them could talk about their own experiences using the telephone. There was no right or wrong response. Another speaker was delivering a talk on fire safety. She asked her audience this open-ended question: When you hear the alarm for a fire drill, how do you respond? Each person in her audience had been in this situation at one time or another and could answer the question. This enabled the speaker to find out how her listeners were dealing with fire drills, which was the topic of her talk. Tip Dialogue questions are part of your verbal skill set. Although they may not work in every situation, you should think about using them as you prepare a talk. It's a good way of keeping your listeners involved. Incorporate Dialogue Questions Effectively Have you ever attended a cocktail party and found that you didn't know a single person in the room? The feeling can be overwhelming. One way to deal with it is to walk up to someone who is standing alone, extend your hand, introduce yourself, and ask a question: "What brings you to this party?" And after you've talked about that topic, you might ask: "What kind of work do you do?" We call these questions ice-breakers. Some people go so far as to make a fairly long mental list of them. If one question doesn't work, they try another. Plain English An ice-breaker sa question that begins a dialogue, or interaction, between a speaker and listener(s).