Often, it's not what you say, but what you ask, that improves people's opinion of you.
Why? Most people love to be asked questions because they love to be listened to. They love that you're interested in their point of view, their expertise, and what else they might have to say.
The best part is that you don't have to be the smartest person in a meeting to ask smart questions. In fact, usually a good question is just taking a situation and prodding a little deeper.
If you're interested in making a good impression in a group setting, here are some types of questions you can ask when you're in a team meeting that will help you sound smarter:
1. What are your thoughts on X?
2. What are the advantages/disadvantages of Y?
3. How does Z fit in with our mission?
4. What do you think is a good next step for the project/company/group?
5. Did anyone come up with any grand ideas?, or grand ideas they’d like to share?
6. What are your thoughts on the pros/cons of doing X instead of Y?
7. How have you dealt with these issues in past groups?
8. Why do you think X is the best choice?
9. What was the most difficult part about implementing ________?
10. How do you see this problem solving strategy working?
11. What are your thoughts on the best approach to handling these issues in this setting?
12. What do you think would work best in this situation?
13. What was your biggest obstacle when implementing the plan we developed last month?
14. How do you see it fitting in with the goals and objectives of this project?
15. What has worked well in our last two meetings?
16. How does X relate to Y?
17. What do you think about Z as far as bringing us together as a group?
18. What would be the best way to get started on X?
19. How will we know if we’re making progress on the task at hand?
20. Did anyone have any ideas last week that we should be considering today?
21. What could you tell us about the company/project/task that will help us do our jobs better?
22. How did this relate to other things we’ve done in the past?
23. What is the next step in the plan?
24. What would you do if you were in my position?
25. How did we end up getting to this point, and how can we avoid it in the future?
26. Will there be more meetings like this one or is this going to be a stand-alone meeting?
27. What has worked well in the past and how can we make it work for us now?
28. What were the major factors involved in reaching this decision?
29. What were some of the contributing factors to our success, and how well did they work for us?
30. How can we apply these lessons to other projects or situations?
31. What were the most important lessons that we learned from this project?
32. What could have been done differently, and what would have benefitted us if we had a different choice of actions or decisions at a given time?
When you put questions like these to use in a meeting, consider repeating back the last thing that was said. This anchors your question in what others are discussion, making it even more compelling.
Here's an example on something to say in a meeting to sound intelligent.
Speaker: "I recommend we go ahead with option 3."
You: "You recommend we go ahead with option 3. (Question 14:) How do you see this fitting in with the goals and objectives of this project."
Now, the questions to ask in a meeting on this page aren't the only kinds of questions you may want to ask. For other types of questions see these articles: