Teaching Skills: effective questioning strategies

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Effective Presentations

Effective Questioning Strategies

As a presenter, you can use effective questioning strategies to engage your audience, extend their understanding of your topic, and enhance your presentation by drawing on their expertise and perceptions.

Cues for Effective Questioning (adapted from Cook & Rasmussen, 1991)

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Reword questions to eliminate yes/no responses (Is this a dragonfly? vs. What can you tell me about this insect?)
  • Develop questions carefully, including “higher order” questions (What would happen if. . .? How does that compare to what we saw yesterday?)
  • Ask only one question at a time
  • Practice “Wait Time” by pausing 3-5 seconds after you ask a question and before you call on someone to respond
  • Call on participants randomly
  • Acknowledge all responses to show that each is valued
  • Withhold criticism and praise of responses; acknowledge all input
  • Rephrase rather than repeat questions that are not understood
  • Encourage interaction by having participants answer questions in small groups
  • In addition to asking good questions in an effective manner, presenters are challenged to master the techniques for eliciting and answering audience questions.


Cook, C.J., & Rasmussen, C.M. (1991). Cues for effective questioning . Evanston, IL: NCREL, P.O. Box 68, 60204.

Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.