Prompting Statement

When a group of experts speak in public, they must maintain a connection with their audience by speaking to them, not each other. This makes resolution of a question in one speaker's mind difficult since a direct query to a peer breaks the audience connection. A direct question, like "How did you handle this, Fred?", also traps Fred into answering you instead of speaking his thoughts in turn.

therefore: Ask a question of your peers by making a partial statement to your audience.

You can trust your peers to have been following the flow of your discourse and to have recognized the omission in your statement. A brief pause will yield the floor to your colleagues who can pick up the thought, approach your question from what ever angle they find most comfortable, and still not lose contact with the audience. The technique is particularly handy in the People, Projects and Patterns database where everyone is an author, an expert among peers. For example, should you wish an elaboration on a statement like,
 blah, blah, then I wrote a Smalltalk compiler to blah, blah, blah
you simply revise the statement to reference an incomplete page that could, when finished, answer your questions. The link looks like,
 blah, blah, then I wrote a SmalltalkCompiler to blah, blah, blah
The incomplete SmalltalkCompiler page is your prompting statement. The link you make in your colleague's prose is just your way of calling attention to your own omissions. Wait a few days then look there for your answers. The completed text has the advantage of not reading like a dialog. The other readers will think the two of you were speaking directly to them.

See also TipsFromWardCunningham and WhyWikiWorks; contrast with PositionStatement.
This can also be an interview technique. If you want to find out whether a person has strong political opinions, make a statement about politics and see whether he responds to it. You can do this with any subject; if the person recognizes what you are doing, he won't mind unless he has something he considers worth hiding, in which case you've learned that. The only major danger is coming off as having opinions on things you don't understand! -- DanielKnapp

New Attempt

This can also be an interview technique. If you want to find out whether a person has strong preferences for a certain technology platform, make a controversial statement either for or against the platform and see whether they respond to it. You can do this with any subject; if the person recognizes what you are doing, he won't mind unless he has something he considers worth hiding, in which case you've learned that. The only major danger is coming off as having opinions on things you don't understand!


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