How to ask open-ended questions

Asking questions is an important skill for communication in any community program. This article will help you learn the critical ways in which to ask questions. The objective is to gain a better understanding of the individual person the leader (change agent) is trying to change.


If you are meeting someone for the first time then:

  • You may ask about what they are interested in.
  • Usually people, through what they wear, carry or say, give us a clue about what they have done in the past or are interested in.
  • Also, one can take a general approach. Ask yourself: What are most people interested in? They are interested in speaking about themselves – their children – their dreams.


Ask open-ended questions – This will allow the person to speak more:

  • If you ask a person, ‘What brought you to the bus-stop? They will most likely reply that they have to go to my office or I have to go to out of the city for work. However if you ask open-ended questions that start with WHY or HOW then you are opening up the space for the conversation. For example you can ask: How did you get to the bus stop when there is so much rain today? Such a question will allow the person to speak more. This is want you want.


Watch the video below to learn simple ways of asking questions and leading conversations for change in your community.