Asking better questions: leading vs. open questions
The problem with leading questions
One of the biggest problems on research calls is asking leading questions. They can easily derail an interview and make any insights you get biased and often wrong. They'll lead you down a path that doesn't actually solve problems, because you've seeded the interviews with leading questions.
It's even harder when you're in the middle of a call and worry about filling the silence.
First of all, don't worry too much about the silence. Leaving some silence is just fine because it actually encourages participants to talk. They likely won't want to sit in silence either, so they will try and fill it in by talking. That usually leads to some really good conversation that you wouldn't have had if you were in the middle of trying to ask a question.
Leading questions vs. open questions
So what makes a leading question vs. an open question? Let's look at a few:
- Leading: Do you like this feature?
- Open: Tell me about the how you use this product?
- Leading: Does your team use feature A or feature B?
- Open: Who on your team uses the product and how do they use it?
- Leading: Would you like to have X or Y feature?
- Open: What do wish the product could do that it doesn't do currently?
- Leading: Would you pay X for this feature?
- Trick question! There's no good way to ask this and get a good answer. If you're trying to figure this out, and you have the option, the best way to do this is a low effort opt-in where you tell people how much the product would cost and ask people to sign up. If a lot of people sign up, you'll at least have some indication that people are willing to pay the price you set. If not a lot of people sign up, you'll know that you need to revisit the drawing board.
All of the leading questions closed, meaning they have a limited scope for an answer or yes / no answers. Instead, we want to keep questions as open ended as possible.
Remember that the whole point of research is to start up a conversation so you can listen. So ask open ended questions, leave a little silence, and get ready to listen!
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