Open-ended questions are designed to encourage people to talk in detail about their thoughts and feelings on a given subject. Rather than asking closed-ended questions requiring only a simple one or two-word response, open-ended questions allow the speaker to go in the direction he desires and provide the details he finds important. Playing games that encourage open-ended conversations helps everybody in the group get to know one another on a deeper level.
“Just Imagine” Games
“Just Imagine” games allow players to imagine extraordinary scenarios and talk about how they would act in them. In the game “One Goes Back,” players imagine they are given three specified objects. The leader of the group then poses the question, “If you had to give one item back, which object would you choose and why?” Also ask, “What would you do with the two remaining objects? How could you use them together?”
For children, let them imagine they were an animal of their choosing. Ask them how they would spend their time and what foods they would eat as the animal. Ask why they choose that particular animal.
The Question Game
Write out several categories on a chalkboard that relate to your class or group. For instance, in a political group, one of the categories might be “Government.” Tell participants to ask open-ended questions about any of the categories on the board. Questions are only acceptable if they are open-ended and have not been asked already. The game ends when one of the participants cannot come up with a new open-ended question.
Players imagine they have found a magic wand that can change three aspects of their life or, alternatively, about their personality. Encourage them to discuss why these three changes would be important and how they would be helpful. This game allows people to talk about their frustrations and desires, which are typically difficult topics to discuss.
Ask the players to describe in great detail their dream vacation. Start by asking where they would go for their ideal vacation, and then ask open-ended questions beginning with the words “how” and “why.” For example, ask the participants, “Why did you choose this location;” or “How would you spend your time?”