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If you’re saddled with the task of questioning a guest speaker in a live or virtual event, you can potentially learn a lot from the experience. While the whole exercise should be fun and memorable, the fun part only applies when you ask the right questions.
Coming up with questions to ask guest speaker shouldn’t be a daunting task, especially if you’re not doing it for the first time. However, first-timers will always overthink the decision to add a question to the questionnaire, fearing for how terribly the interview might turn out.
If you’re that person, this article is here to help. Here, I’ll compile a list of some of the best questions to consider adding to your questionnaire for a guest speaker, if you ever get a chance to interview one.
Before going on to throw questions at the speaker, it’s crucial to have a good listen to what they have to say first. Then, you’ll know what questions they answered in their speech so you can cancel them out to avoid asking too many redundant questions.
You shouldn’t worry about not having enough questions to ask. In most cases, you only get to ask a couple of questions, while this list contains dozens. Without further ado, here are some of the best questions to ask guest speaker.
20 Best Questions to Ask Guest Speaker
1- What’s something about you that the audience may not know yet?
When questioning a guest speaker, it’s essential to start on a positive and fun note to ensure you’re setting the atmosphere right for the questions you’re going to ask. Asking for the speaker to tell you something about them that may be unknown to the audience is a perfect way to do that.
2- How do you think the industry has changed over the past five years?
Once you’ve started the interview on a fun and personal note, it’s time to move to what guest speakers like talking about: the industry. An important topic that most speakers could go on and on about is how the industry has changed over the past five years and why those changes happened. This question will help you keep them talking without shifting the positive mood.
3- How do you see the industry evolving over the next five years?
Asking someone to predict how they think the industry will become over the next couple of years is a subtle way to affirm that you regard them as an industry expert. Note that the industry-related questions only apply if the event is work-related and the speaker is indeed an industry expert.
4- What’s the most exciting aspect of your job?
For someone who gets guest speaking engagements, there are parts of their job that they absolutely love. Since it’s very unlikely that they’ll bring that up naturally during their speech, it’s upon you the interviewer to ask them about it and relate to their experiences.
5- What’s the most annoying part of your job?
Just like everyone has a part they love about their job, there are also times when you feel like simply resigning your appointment. That’s a natural state of mind that happens to the regular people in the industry, as well as the industry experts. Asking a guest speaker about this is an interesting way to get insights on what your boss hates about his job.
6- How do you maintain a positive work-life balance in this strenuous industry?
If you work in a particularly demanding industry, you may find it a bit difficult to maintain a positive work-life balance. What’s a better way to get advice about that than asking a guest speaker who likely is a high-ranker at their company and has enough experience to advise you.
7- What is one big misconception about your work?
Almost every single employment role out there has numerous misconceptions that the actual people working there can debunk easily. For a fun break in your interview, you can ask about the biggest misconceptions they’ve heard about their work and how that is so not true.
8- What are the factors that most influence your decision-making process?
Since a guest speaker is most likely to be a top-ranking employee, they’ll make more decisions than the average member of their company’s staff. To help make better decisions yourself, you may want to ask about what goes into their decision-making process that helps them make so many good decisions that they’re now a high-ranker.
9- What do you think we could do to improve this industry?
It doesn’t matter how well your industry is going, there must always be a couple of things that make it not as great as it could be. Trust me, there’s a pretty good chance that you do not know those things as well as an average guest speaker. Asking during an interview session should be a bad idea after all.
10- How do you define a successful individual in this field?
Everyone has a different definition of success, but if I’d go with one, I’ll choose that of one of the top influencers in the field. A guest speaker at your event is a top ranker somewhere else, making it logical for them to define success. Their answer might prompt you to rethink how you view the industry.
11- How have you dealt with past disappointments in your career?
It doesn’t matter how important or popular you think a speaker or influencer is, they’ve most likely dealt with rejection and disappointments at some point in their career. You can learn from their response to the disappointment to know what to do when you inevitably face something similar.
12- When did you decide to choose this career?
It’s pretty rare for people to become what they chose to become when they were little. A fun question you can ask is when they decided to go into their current field and what motivated them to do so. You can also ask questions about what they wanted to do before choosing a career.
13- What would you have done if you didn’t choose this career?
As the preceding question suggests, asking a guest speaker what they’d have done if they didn’t end up as a professional in their current field is a clever way to get them talking. Their answer should give you some insight into their early life and what they believed growing up.
14- You once spoke/wrote in your speech/book about (topic), how did you come to that conclusion?
One thing that most speakers love is the idea that you follow them and you consume a lot of their content. There’s no better way to prove this than by citing something they said during a speech, and if they’ve written a book, you can also cite a quote from their book. Not only will that make for a fun discussion, it will also make them more willing to connect with you for the long term.
15- What’s the best book you’ll recommend to beginners in this field?
Every professional has that one book they’d recommend to anyone seeking success in their field of expertise. During an interview, you can ask the guest speaker about the book they’re most likely to recommend and why it’s their choice. You can also ask about their opinions on specific books too.
16- Who’s currently your role model in the industry?
Unless you’re interviewing the most experienced expert in your industry, this question should always elicit an answer. Since the guest speaker is most likely a role model to some in the industry, asking about their role model is a clever way to learn about others you should follow.
17- Who do you think is the most similar to you in the industry?
If the speaker is past who can have a role model, you’ll need to find a twist to the preceding question. Here’s a twist that forces them to recommend another industry expert without admitting inferiority.
18- What mistake has taught you the biggest lesson in your career?
Everyone makes mistakes; even that guest speaker that appears to be the most knowledgeable person around. When such people make mistakes, however, they learn from them, becoming better professionals in the process. Asking what lessons they learned from their mistakes is a good way to skip the mistakes part.
19- What current industry trend will have the biggest impact in the long run?
From the numerous industry trends likely making waves in your field, you can ask a guest speaker what they think will have the greatest impact. It’s an interesting way to keep a conversation going while learning about their opinions.
20- What’s a piece of advice you’ll give to anyone just starting?
And for the failsafe question to end any interview: ask for advice. It doesn’t have to be for beginners; you can ask for a piece of advice for yourself, the audience, or anyone that’s relevant to the discussion you’re having. It works every time.
Interviewing a guest speaker mightn’t be as hard as you think once you get yourself into it. Compiling the questions is one of the most difficult parts, but we’ve done that for you already. What’s left now is to prioritize the fun questions to ask first, summon a bit of confidence, and enjoy your interview.
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That’s all for Best Questions to Ask a Guest Speaker, I think that’s a whole lot of ideas to try out have fun and enjoy.
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