Did you know asking open-ended questions is an important ability to have as a leader? They can help turn a regular conversation into an entirely new learning experience for both you and the person being questioned.

Open-ended questions are incredible as they help to gain insights on the opinions of others. These insights are valuable as they can inform the way you conduct future coaching and support for others. You might even gain a new perspective on things that never crossed your mind.

An added bonus to open-ended questions? Asking them is a skill you easily can develop!

What is an Open-Ended Question?

Simply put, an open-ended question is one that encourages a fully explained answer over a yes or no answer. They often start with prompts such as ‘why’, ‘how’, or ‘what if’. 

When a respondent is unable to answer your question with a one-word answer, they are prompted to elaborate on their thoughts. They must offer their unique perspective which most often leads to a conversation.   

How Does an Open-Ended Question Compare to a Closed-Ended Question?

In contrast to open-ended questions, close-ended questions are those that can be answered with a basic ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Both of these types of questions have a place in your conversations. 

Close-ended questions can be used in conjunction with open-ended questions to create conversation and encourage fuller answers. You can choose to use one over the other or use them together based on the goals of your conversation and what you are hoping to achieve.

Questions in general are a great way to get interactive with your audience.

How to Ask Open-Ended Questions 

Your use of open-ended questions can set the tone for your conversation and help you to get what you need out of it. 

Here are some useful tips for asking open-ended questions. 

Follow up with an open-ended question 

If you are to ask respondents a close-ended question and don’t quite get the detailed answer you were hoping for, you can follow it up with an open-ended question.

For example, if you were to ask something like “did you gain something valuable from the process?”, you might only receive a simple yes or no answer in return. 

To take this answer to the next level, you then could follow it up with something like “what exactly did you gain from the process?”  

This helps the respondent to elaborate on their yes or no answer.

Start a conversation with an open-ended question

One of the best ways to get things going with a new conversation is by asking an open-ended question. This opens up the opportunity for the conversation to go in different directions. 

If you are to ask an open-ended question, don’t be surprised if it leads the conversation into a number of offshoots. Be prepared for this type of situation and embrace it as it helps you to gain more valuable insights.


It’s also important to remember as a leader you should be actively listening to the answers to the questions you ask. This helps to build trust and a better relationship with respondents.

Transform your questions

It’s more than likely you’re already asking questions as a leader. Take the opportunity to evaluate the types of questions that you’re asking and if you could benefit from transforming them.

Are you asking close-ended questions that could be turned into open-ended questions that will yield better answers? Are the questions you’re asking giving respondents the opportunity to give a full answer that is valuable for both you and them?

Transforming questions into open-ended questions is a sure way to create a better learning experience and get the most out of your conversations.

  1. You can specifically learn how to use survey questions before, during, and after an event here

Examples of Open-Ended Questions

If you’re ready to start asking open-ended questions, here are some great examples to get you started:

  1. What opportunities do you see in your near future?
  2. What are your top priorities at the moment?
  3. How do you feel about your current situation?
  4. What motivates you in your projects?
  5. What challenges do you currently face and how do you plan to tackle them?
  6. How do you measure your success?
  7. What are the risks associated with your endeavours?
  8. What are the best decisions you’ve made up to this point?

Take Your Discussions to the Next Level

Now that you’re an expert on open-ended questions you will be asking them and gaining valuable insights from your discussions in no time!  

Swift Polling also offers a wide range of product features that can help take your discussions and presentations to the next level.

Explore our product features and get in touch for more information today!

If you enjoyed this post, we have three more we think you’ll love:

What to Do with Unanswered Questions After Your All-Hands Meeting

The Benefits of Gamification for Online Learning

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