Blog Writing

Creating The Space To Ask Questions: Asking Questions With A Purpose Part II

I’ve realised this series on questions is going to turn into a 5 parter, never mind a 3 or a 4.

Here’s a quick addition before I get into the purposeful part of the questions.

I’ve decided to add this one in because:

  • I was stuck, and realised this bit was getting in the way
  • I’m aware that many of you are interested in the role of questions in prompting blog conversations, and I want to help you achieve that… but
  • I don’t want this series to focus on how to generate blog conversation, because there’s already lots of great stuff been written on that

So before I get started with the series proper I wanted to share these three simple reminders:

1. Clear some space so there’s more room for your readers.  You might be squeezing them out with too many words, too many questions, too much expertise

Here are two great posts that have really helped me with this:

The 4 Keys to Reader Comments and Conversation from the queen of blog conversations Liz Strauss

Give Your Readers Room To Participate On Your Blog from Darren Rowse

2. Get clear on your purpose: to have a conversation, person to person, human to human.  Think about how you’d do that in real life.  Focus on one person you’re talking to.  How would you open the conversation?  How could you show them that you were interested in what they had to say?

3. Think about the bigger purpose, beyond ‘to get comments’ or ‘it’s what bloggers do’. What will those comments and conversation, those responses to your questions help you to do?  More importantly: how will it change things for your readers?  What difference will your questions make to them?

That’s where I’m going next: asking questions with a purpose.  It was going to be a post from hell without this preamble.

Writing this has helped me clear the space for the rest of the series.  I hope it’ll help you get into the questioning frame of mind too.

This is the second in what’s now a 5 part series: How To Ask Purposeful Questions.

Coming next: The Purpose That’s Driving Your Questions

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count

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6 Responses to “Creating The Space To Ask Questions: Asking Questions With A Purpose Part II”

  1. On June 11, 2008 at 4:03 pm --Deb responded with... #

    This seems to be one of my problems. Even when I ASK questions, I think my blog often sounds more like a lecture than the beginning of a conversation. So BAD! Clearly, I need to work on that.

  2. On June 11, 2008 at 4:22 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    -Deb, I think some blog topics lend themselves more to conversational style than others. You do have a clear teaching dimension to yours after all.

    I suppose one way to think about is to get clear on the reason you’re asking questions at the outset, before you write the post. That might be to get ideas, to share perspectives, to pick someone’s brain about a grammar point or whatever, and then start to write

    I think sometimes we just add questions on add to the end… probably we need to shift the tone of the whole piece to get the questions to work, rather than just focusing on the questions


  3. On June 11, 2008 at 7:06 pm Rosa Say responded with... #

    Joanna, I think your comment here for Deb (and all of us) strikes to the core: “I suppose one way to think about is to get clear on the reason you’re asking questions at the outset, before you write the post.”

    Eager learners that we are, we take well-meaning advice from many who freely publish online because we respect and admire them, but without connecting back to our own purpose, and without asking ourselves, “for the sake of what?” We follow instruction well, especially when we believe in the worth of the instruction, yet the best question of all may be to ask ourselves, “and why do I feel this will work well for me, and for my purpose?”

  4. On June 11, 2008 at 9:58 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Rosa, I wish I could just post this comment of yours and save myself the work of writing the 5 part series!

    Yes, absolutely. That’s the bit that we all need to do. Ask again and again: how does this fit with my purpose?


  5. On June 13, 2008 at 2:55 am cat responded with... #

    “asking questions with a purpose”

    I had to smile at this because I have a bad habit of throwing a question in at the end. And I mean throwing ;-)

    It’s sort of, well, I know I want/need to ask a question …

  6. On June 13, 2008 at 9:08 pm Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Cat, I can assure you this is something we all do sometimes. And sometimes it works as is… other times it definitely helps to get clear on the how and the why first, and figure what else we need to change to help people respond



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