Few consider meetings the highlight of their workday – more probably consider it the bane of their work life. It is true that meetings, while important and potentially useful, aren’t always very good. Sadly, now that most meetings are being held virtually, it hasn’t gotten any better. The challenge is how to have more effective virtual meetings. And part of the answer is the questions you use.

The pregnant pause, the uncertainty of who should speak next, the lack of engagement – all are common occurrences in virtual meetings. While the causes of these challenges vary, the solution is often to ask the right type of question in the right way. Here are tips to help you with both the question approach and the questions themselves.

Four Question Approaches

Think about the flow of most any meeting. Questions will be asked by the group and most will wait for you, the leader or facilitator, to answer. If you do, you aren’t creating an engaged dialogue, but rather encouraging a question and answer session that won’t create new solutions or greater participation.

Before we get to the types of questions, let’s look at four approaches for extending the conversation, removing the uncertainty of who should respond, and reducing the concern of interrupting others.