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Challenge questions - Sketchplanations

Challenge questions

Two types of questions you might face when presenting are Clarification questions and Challenge questions.

Clarification questions are usually pretty simple — someone is curious or didn't understand an aspect of what you said. You just need to answer as best you can and check with them that you answered their question.

Challenge questions are when someone disagrees or has concerns about what you've presented. Not all of us, however, are likely to say so clearly, and so challenge questions are often disguised as clarification questions. A "How it will work for new visitors?" might actually come from the thought: "I don't think this will work for new visitors." Or a "When will it be ready?" may stem from "I don't think this will be done on time." You may pick it up in the tone of how it's asked.

Challenge questions usually benefit from a different approach. Responding effectively to a Challenge question may require exploring the concern or issue behind the question. I've seen many short, factual responses to Challenge questions where the person asking is not at all reassured by the response.

Reminding myself that a question may be a Challenge, not a Clarification question, helps me make sure everyone is brought along with me during a meeting, presentation, or plain old conversation.

This along with many other useful frameworks is from Trenton Moss' excellent Human Powered.

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