It All Starts with a Question, a Powerful One

We are social animals. We like to have conversations. We like to know more about each other's stories. It is in our nature. As coaches, and change agents it is very important to use this basic instinct to our advantage. The easiest way to influence people, coach them, mentor them, transform them, build relationship with is to have a conversation. I can't even imagine any of the above not to start with a conversation.

Conversations are two way streets. And the easiest way to have a two way communication is to ask questions. Questions can be dumb, unrelated, out of ordinary, crazy, or even beautiful. The main differentiating factor of good communicators is their ability to ask powerful questions. Powerful questions are the ones that generate curiosity in the listener, and stimulates reflective conversation. They are usually thought provoking, and challenges the underlying assumptions. Powerful questions if asked in the right tone, and body language, generates creativity and new possibilities.

You might think it's hard to ask Powerful questions. You are absolutely right. It is not that easy, and certainly not natural for everyone. The good news is that it is something that can be learned, and relatively very easily.

I invite you to join me for a workshop on asking Powerful questions. In this workshop, I am going to help you build the muscle to ask more powerful questions. I will give you easy tool that each time you want to ask a question, make it more powerful. This technique will provide you with an easy tool that can be applied in any conversation. Asking powerful questions will help you build bridges with people, you would become more empathetic with them, and do not be surprised you are going to listen more. Some of the characteristics of a great coach, one might say.

1 favorite thumb_down thumb_up 4 comments visibility_off  Remove from Watchlist visibility  Add to Watchlist

Outline/Structure of the Workshop

Session - Scenario 1 - Demonstrating different Question techniques - 20 minutes

There will be scenario simulations. In these scenarios I am going to ask a volunteer from the audience to have a conversation with. In the first round of conversation, I am going to show the importance of body language. The second roound would be about the tone of the question that is being asked. The third roound would be about the same scenario but asking different question. One is a question that starts with Why and is personal. And the other one is a question that starts with What and is going deep. Then I ask him/her to pick which one he/she preffered.

Then I would ask the whole audience to pick one of the questions. By standing to the side of the room that the question is being presented.

Then I am going to talk about the one that most picked is an example of a powerful question.

Section 2 - Powerful Question - 30 minutes

Then I am going to ask the audience to go through an exercise defined by Deborah

It has two rounds, one is silent priority ordering and the next round is as a team. Then I do a debrief.

Section 3 - Powerful Questions and its Pyramid - 20 minutes

For 10 minutes, I am going to talk about the Question and its power, its different dimensions (scope, construction and assumptions) and how one can transform a question into a powerful one. Also, will be going to talk about the using of it, and when to use it.

Section 4 - Practice what they learned. - 15 minutes

In triads, I will ask them to identify themselves as question Asker and story teller. The story teller is responsible to telling a story. I am going to introduce them with them pause and rewind coaching technique. The question Askers are going to ask questions. And whenever they have a question to ask, they will pause. Show the question to the other question Asker, and try to make it more powerful. And ask the more powerful question.

Final Debrief - 5 minutes

In the final debrief, I am going to summarize what they learned. And how they were able to practice asking powerful questions. Any last minute question will be answered as well.

Learning Outcome

In this session you would learn
• How to avoid very bad Questions
• What defines a powerful question
• The three dimension of a powerful question (Construction, Scope and Assumptions)
• how to become self-aware of yourself not asking a powerful question
A practical technique to practice powerful questions (pause and

Target Audience

Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, People Managers, Leaders

Prerequisites for Attendees


schedule Submitted 7 months ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Tathagat Varma
    By Tathagat Varma  ~  6 months ago
    reply Reply

    Shahin, thanks for your proposal. We need some more details to complete our reviews:

    • Can you share a video from one of your past talks (any talk willdo)
    • We have a fairly large number of proposals for workshop, so we are trying to find what best way to accommodate them. What others format could you use without really diluting the key messages? For example, a 45min session?
    • Shahin Sheidaei
      By Shahin Sheidaei  ~  6 months ago
      reply Reply


      Sorry for late reply. 

      1-This is a video in which you can see my presentation. It is not very well filmed, so sorry for that in advance. Please fast forward a couple of minutes for the start of my talk. 

      2-I have carefully designed this session to relay a powerful message to the audience, so that they learn, practice and remember the new tool with them after leaving the session. It's best to run it as full 90 min. However, if you are looking for shortening it, it can be done. If shortened, the audience will get familiarized with the subject, and it will be with them to practice and learn the tool, I will provide them with tools to do that after the session.

      This is how I can shorten the session to 45 minutes:

      Section 1: 3 minutes (original 20 minutes)

      I can skip the first section, which is more about the bigger picture of having a conversation; in which questioning is a part of it. I can talk to it though, briefly.

      Section 2 & 3: 35 minutes (original 50 minutes)

      These are the main part of the talk. I am going to keep them. If pressed for the time, I can shorten the exercise with less number of questions. However, my preference is to keep the full exercise on. 

      Section 4: 5 minutes (original 15 minutes)

      I am going to skip the part at the end when I am planning to have an interactive session to practice what they learned. Instead, I am going to give them a handout to quickly practice on their own. Also, to use the handout for practice in the future. 

      Section 5: 1 minute (original 5 minutes)

      Original timing: 90 minutes

      Reduced one: 45 minutes

      If I get more than 45 minutes, I will then expand one of the sections depending on the timing. I hope this helps. 

  • Anand Bagmar
    By Anand Bagmar  ~  6 months ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Shahin,

    As with your other submissions, I don't think this belongs in the CD/DevOps track. Can you please take a look and update accordingly?

    • Shahin Sheidaei
      By Shahin Sheidaei  ~  6 months ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks Anand. You are absolutely right, I updated accordingly.