Methods > Communicate > Using Powerful Questions

Using Powerful Questions

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Contributed by Jane Finette


This workshop helps participants explore using powerful questions. Developing this key skill can help open conversations, increase creativity, make better decisions, build stronger teams, and help focus. This workshop will take you through a series of reflections and activities that will help you practice asking powerful questions.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize a powerful question as opposed to a closed and leading question.
  • Be able to ask minimum of 10 powerful questions.
  • Have actively practiced asking powerful questions with a partner.


Activity – Closed and Leading Questions (10 minutes)

Get people thinking about what are closed and leading questions.

Ask your group as a whole to describe examples of closed and leading questions.

Review this list of powerful questions.

  • What is possible?
  • What is exciting to you about this?
  • What do you make of it?
  • What do you think is best?
  • How does it look to you?
  • How do you feel about it?
  • What resonates for you?
  • What do you mean?
  • What does it feel like?
  • What is the part that is not yet clear?
  • What do you want?
  • Can you tell me more?
  • What else?
  • What is an example?

Ask people to turn to a person next to them and practice asking closed / leading questions (2-3 mins)
Ask them to describe what impact they noticed by using closed or leadings question.

Resource: review this article on Leading Questions

Activity – What are Powerful Questions and how do I use them? (15 minutes)

Powerful questions can provoke action, and foster discovery, reduce confusion and open people up to possibilities and creativity. By asking a powerful question you can take a conversation to a whole new level.

Ask you group to turn to another person and start a conversation about their favorite vacation? They are only able to use questions that start with ‘what’. After 3 minutes, swap and ask the question to the other person. (6 minutes)
Ask the group these questions:
What happened?
What surprised you?
What did notice?
How did it feel?

Ask the group – what are the characteristics of a powerful question and what are the benefits?


Wrap up for this workshop encourages immediate action. Ask people to take a minute to write down a ‘what question’ they want to use several times for the rest of today e.g. ‘What are you excited about … “. Ask them to write it on a post-it note and take with them to remind them of their task.

Self Assessment & Additional Discussion Questions

Did you recognize tendencies in your asking questions? What are they?
Can you name 10 powerful questions?
Describe two characteristics of a powerful question?
What goals have you set for yourself to ask more powerful questions?


Here are some homework exercises, so can to get better at asking powerful questions.

In your next meeting, try to ask at least 5 powerful questions. This can be very impactful in a meeting with many people. Especially notice when you want to pipe in and “wow” people with your brilliant knowledge. That’s a perfect time for a powerful question.
Set up informal 10 minute meetings with the colleagues, and/or friends around you to try out your new skill. Notice the results.
In your next 5 conversations, pretend you know nothing.