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How to Ask Questions on a Talk Show

Learn to listen attentively to ask specific questions.
Winston Davidian/Photodisc/Getty Images

Preparing to speak before an audience daunts most people. Similarly, conversing with another individual on a talk show causes many to panic and break out in a cold sweat. It is important to stage a talk show before conversing live with the public or airing it on television or the radio. Finding appropriate questions and learning to listen attentively facilitate a strong discussion and encourages listeners to pay attention.

Learn the topic. Before asking questions on a talk show, understand the topic you are presenting. Even a cursory knowledge of the subject that you discuss provides a better platform for asking engaging and intriguing questions than no knowledge at all.

Meet your guests. Before going on the interview, meet your guest beforehand. Give yourself a chance to get comfortable off the talk show, before you go on. In the book "The Art of the Interview: Lessons from a Master of the Craft" by Lawrence Grobel, famous talk show host Barbara Walters says an interviewer should know a person in-depth before attempting to interview them.

Practice with role play. Marcy Winograd and Jacqueline Hirtz state in a lesson plan on talk show communication that practicing with role play helps the interviewer realize what types of questions work the best to keep dialogue moving. Practice with a friend or family member to get an idea of how to get better answers from thought-provoking questions.

Stage the show. Along with role play, staging where guests will sit, when to take breaks and when to ask certain questions can significantly help the discussion to flow smoothly. Listen actively, as some statements made by the guest may spark additional questions or dialogue starters.

Use note cards. A list of talking points helps an interviewer to remember what was just said and to keep the show moving forward. Have extra questions available if there is more time left at the end of the talk show. Author TJ Walker in his article, "Nine TV Interview Tips and Eight Presentations Tips," says to move your eyes down to glance at your notes, and keep your head level.


Keep questions grouped together by topic. Organize questions to keep a solid connection with the guest and the audience.

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