Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Changes by Frank Sesno has a chapter on entertaining questions called “The Inspired Host.”
For innkeepers who host events such as dinners and private parties, knowing entertaining questions to ask allows you to engage your audience and keep guest conversations interesting.
The objective always revolves around creating an experience that all your guests will enjoy and remember. You can steer the conversation to draw in guests and energize the room. Create a mood that connects people in stimulating and surprising ways.
First, the author advises, you must know your audience by asking:
- Who is my audience?
- What do they know?
- What don’t they know?
- What do they care about?
- What will they find interesting and funny and why?
Starting with an exchange that is spontaneous and a little unexpected often breaks the ice and sets the tone for a more relaxed and more genuine experience.
Then begin with a few topics that interest everyone. Mix it up with a few lighter, open-ended questions. Listen closely. Ask for different levels of experience and awareness. Ask for examples and encourage stories.
Pick questions that intrigue and interest everyone and are relevant to the event or occasion. Draw from a menu of topics and questions to create flow and engage different people on different levels.
Set the mood through signals, prompts, words, and timing. Trigger emotions through the subjects you pick and the questions you ask.
Try the one-word association game to open the conversation more and perhaps get a few laughs. Figure out what you want to talk about and map out questions and anticipated responses. You can excite the imagination, or you can prompt reflection.
Your questions should invite participation at whatever level your guests feel comfortable. Frame your questions in a way that is approachable and real. Be willing to change directions when someone observes an altogether different slice of life.
Good hosts are always on, always listening, and always interested in their guests and the conversation around them. The role of hosts is to draw out other people and make them interesting, funny, or noteworthy. Ask guests to contribute new ideas or share interesting experiences.
Make your questions open-ended (they cannot be answered with a yes or no response) as well as friendly. Avoid controversial topics like politics, money, and religion.
To make sure everyone responds, try throwing out a question with the challenge that everyone must respond in just one sentence.
- “What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about you?”
- “If you could transport yourself anywhere in the world right now, go to any country just to eat dinner, where would you go and what would you eat?”
By applying a little “conversation leadership” to get guests interacting with each other, you can create an environment that is inclusive, interesting, and dynamic.
According to Author Frank Sesno, good hosts use questions to have fun, make people laugh, or dive into the ridiculous. He encourages hosts to produce an experience their guests will enjoy and remember.
The more hosts understand the people in the room, the better you can steer the discussion. Hosts should ask questions, but don’t answer them. Be principally interested in drawing out others.
The objective of hosting is to direct the conversation, not dominate it. Direct questions so that everyone gets a chance to talk, but also recognize that some people prefer to listen. Alternate topics and moods to keep the conversation moving, varies, and interesting.
Hosting dinner parties and other private events are excellent opportunities for asking and answering entertaining questions, to getting to know one another, and to having a good time while examining life along the way. I hope this inspires more innkeepers to host events which involve guests in conversation with each other.