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Questions are a significant part of training and learning. Being able to answer questions well is an essential skill for a classroom facilitator whether delivering traditional or virtual training. Although time for questions is often built into the timing parameters of a course, it is limited. The facilitator is responsible for managing questions constructively to ensure all learners understand, but also to stay on track in terms of both content and time.
Below are six techniques to assist you in replying effectively to your participants’ questions.
1. Check to be sure everyone heard and understood the question. This is especially important in the virtual classroom because you can’t read visual clues to determine if someone didn’t hear, or perhaps misunderstood, the question.
2. Answer the question briefly and state the reasons for your answer. Due to time constraints in both the traditional and virtual classroom, it’s important to be concise with your answer. Back up your answer with data or facts to add credibility and limit potential disagreements.
3. Tie your answer to key points in the lesson, if possible. This technique is particularly useful to help learners relate to the content, as well as absorb and retain the information.
4. Admit when you don’t know the answer—never bluff! Ask if anyone else knows the answer. If no one does, offer to find out.
5. Give a direct and friendly answer when someone asks a contentious question. Don’t be provoked into a defensive or argumentative position.
6. Offer to answer a question later if you will be covering the content in an upcoming module. Ask, “That’s a good question. We will be covering that in a few minutes. Do you mind if I deal with it then?”
The ability to field questions well requires practice. If you keep the above techniques in mind, you’ll be able to take on your participants’ questions confidently while keeping the flow of the course in check. What techniques do you apply that work well for you?
To gain these instructional skills and more, check out our Instructional Techniques for New Instructors workshop—now offered live online!