How to Ask a Question

Ryan Hollinger dissects the unique way in which documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux asks questions to unveil amazing insights from people he interviews.

Asking the Right Question, the Right Way

To learn more about people, we have to discover their hidden desires, unpack their meanings, and unravel their emotions. Doing this isn’t easy, as people don’t often want to share personal and intimate feelings with someone they don’t know. To get behind the wall people put up, we need to:

  • Build a trusting relationship
  • Withhold judgement
  • Be a curious student
  • Ask the right questions
  • Build a dialogue based on answers

Louis_Theroux_at_Nordiske_Mediedager_2009Louis Theroux, a British documentary filmmaker and broadcaster demonstrates the fine art of inquiry through asking the right questions, the right way, at the right time.


Empathy Maps

Design Methods - Empathy Maps
Empathy Map

Understanding who we’re designing for is one of our first tasks. This popular method allows us to explore and map the psyche of our user/target market. I first learned this one at IBM Design in Austin TX.

It’s worth noting the apparent contradictions that arise. People often say one thing, but are thinking another. And as we know, we often don’t do what we say. Empathy maps are a great way for understanding these emotional and cognitive paradoxes.

Use this method at the beginning of a project and throughout as you gather more qualitative research.