In a world where we’re constantly using content to solve problems, shape ideas and tell stories, the way we build content becomes as important as the end result. While some professions, like journalism, are well prepared, most are not. As a result, we see far too many articles that either only glean the surface of an issue or the answers we get look the same from website to website.
But this can be solved, and the solution doesn’t work just for content. Whether you’re looking to research a client, adapt an idea to a particular situation or inform customers to the proper usage of your product or service, better answers, and better content, can be found by asking better questions.
John Sawatsky knows this well. Hired to train ESPN employees how to interview, Sawatsky has made a living out of teaching people to ask better questions. While his approach is ideal for anyone that needs to tell stories that require researching people in person, other industries can learn from his method.
His top tips:
- Never ask a yes or no question.
- Sounds conversational, but don’t have a conversation.
- Make no statements.
- Be bland; you’re the framework helping set the story, not the driving force.
- Giving in to the power struggle between interviewer and interviewee gets better answers.
Sawatsky likens the ideal approach to more of a therapist, rather than a storyteller or even a solution provider. If you’re in sales, this means getting the client to tell you why the product will help them. In the startup tech world, this means building with what you have rather than what you think it should be. In customer service, it means finding the REAL problem, which may not be with your company at all.
While the Sawatsky methodology may be sound the world over, there’s certainly more work to be done.
‘I’m always upgrading the methodology, and every time I try to put new stuff into it.” – John Sawatsky
Are you getting helpful answers? Perhaps it’s time to finally ask the right questions.