Professionalism is more about the questions you ask than the answers you give. But how can you ask great quality questions in meetings?
Questions are not effective when asked without any thought put behind them. Resist the temptation to jump into your presentation at the slightest discovery of a need. Instead, carry on asking questions to further clarify the needs of your prospect and potential opportunities and problems they are facing. What has been unveiled about the situation through a quick overview may just be the tip of the iceberg. Here are some guidelines when it comes to asking questions in your meetings.
1. Pre-empt their questions.
Think back to past meetings, and evaluate the common questions you have been asked before in similar situations. Preparing your answer to these before a meeting or even beginning a consultation with addressing these questions is an excellent way to assert your expertise.
2. Get the ‘OK’ first.
Show respect by asking permission to ask certain questions, especially with new clients. A good example is “Do you mind if I ask you about the current status of this project?”
3. Talk on their level.
Use language that is familiar to your client. Using your own jargon and acronyms might sound professional to you, but your client will have no idea what you’re talking about. Keep it simple!
4. Start with the big picture.
Use broad, open-ended questions to start collecting information. Start with a question like “What is your design intent for this project?” and from the answer you receive, you will be able to focus on areas of interest.
5. Ensure your questions flow.
If you jump from idea to idea without any obvious connection, your client is bound to get confused. Make an effort to ask questions in a logical sequence.
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