Spring Conference Series: Asking the Right Questions

  Image: Levo League

Image: Levo League

By: Alisha Nanwani, GWWIB's NY Trip Co-Chair and Seventh Annual Spring Conference PR Director

We have all been in situations that allow for questions during or after a tour, an information session, and guest speaker events. As a chair for GWWIB’s annual networking trip to New York, I have attended numerous site visits to reputable companies and taken note of how asking poorly worded questions can damper the excitement of both the audience and speakers alike. Too often, people waste time by asking questions that are mundane, too personal, or require a simple yes or no answer. I have also seen how asking great questions that provoke invaluable conversation can transform an atmosphere. Read on for a few tips on how to confidently ask questions that won’t induce eye rolls from the audience.

So, what makes a great question?  While there is no formula for impressing your peers with eye- opening questions that elicit deep thought (Re: What is love?), there are a few ways to make sure that your questions are always on point, and more importantly, to the point. Good questioners delve deeper into the conversation with questions that ask why and how, as opposed to focusing on surface-level who/what/where inquiries. Know what kind of answer you are seeking to ask a more targeted question, such as determining whether you are asking for a fact or opinion.

If you find yourself lucky enough to be attending the Seventh Annual Spring Conference, remember to expand your boundaries when asking questions (in a respectful manner, of course).  Do not hesitate to let your curiosity show. In order to ask thoughtful questions that might be on other attendee’s minds as well, actively listen to the panelist’s responses to moderator questions. Allow yourself to absorb your surroundings and observe what speakers are passionate about. If you have more than one question, organize them from general to specific, then start with the big picture question and follow up with specific questions if they were not already answered. When doing so, be sure to acknowledge the response before transitioning to follow up questions.

To get the answer that you are looking for, focus your question on one point. It can become confusing to answer a multi-part question, so if you have two unrelated questions, ask them separately for the convenience of the guest speaker. Asking questions that allow speakers to further describe their experiences and advice will be helpful for all and give you a deeper insight into their careers. Use the open forum period as an opportunity to get the most helpful information out of the talented panelists and inspiring speakers, and show your enthusiasm with an introduction, bright smile, and clear voice as you engage your target in good conversation.

When in doubt, remember to keep questions concise, productive, and useful for everyone in the audience.  If the answer can be Googled, then it is probably not worth asking.


The Spring Conference Series, written by GWWIB Board members and former Spring Conference directors, is dedicated to preparing GWWIB members and guests of the conference with relevant, first-hand information about how to get the most out of their Spring Conference experience. Click here for tickets and more information about our Seventh Annual Spring Conference.