How to write a good question

5 things to consider when creating your own Fondfolio questions.

Pity the reader

Dale Carnegie advised in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. “Ask questions the other person will enjoy answering.” Always put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re going to be asking these questions of. Also think about the recipient of the Fondfolio and what they might like to hear.

Keep it open

Open-ended questions can be useful in uncovering more information or learning something new — unexpected answers. You’ll know if your question is open-ended if it can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. Questions that start with “Explain,” “How?,” and “What if?” encourage a full answer.

Strike a balance

Consider including at least one playful question to contrast the others that may be more serious or emotional.

Start with something easy

Consider breaking the ice with a simple question like “Describe how you met ... ”. This will get people thinking about this relationship and what it means to them simply by recalling the first meeting. This may spark other memories — material for subsequent questions. If the first question is too emotional then it may be discouraging.

Keep it friendly

People are more responsive when you ask questions in a casual way — like you would in a conversation at a party — rather than an overly formal tone.

For some examples of great questions, check out Story Corps.

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