How to Ask More Questions, and Unleash Your Power to Spark Change, with Frank Sesno – Ep #14

When was the last time you spoke with someone who made you feel they were genuinely interested in what you had to say? The drive to ask more questions is something that we all possess from an early age. Have you spent time with a young child recently? They love to ask questions. What happened to that drive? Yet, for many adults, instead of asking more questions, talking and long monologues crowd out listening during interactions, a major missed opportunity for many of us to explore new ways of thinking and acting. Frank Sesno, in his brilliant book “Ask More”, shows readers how to ask the right questions at the right time, which Frank identifies as a hidden skill that links successful people from all walks of life.

Frank is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than thirty years of experience reporting from around the world. Well known as an anchor, Bureau Chief of CNN’s Washington, DC office White House Correspondent and talk show host on CNN, Frank is also a nationally renowned moderator who has engaged some of the world’s leading personalities and appears regularly on U.S. and international media. Frank currently serves as Director of The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he leads nearly two dozen world-class faculty and teaches classes on The Art of the Interview, journalism ethics, documentary and sustainability reporting.

Frank also created PlanetForward.org, a user-driven web and television project that brings students and experts together to examine sustainable innovations that “move the planet forward.”

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:00] Mark introduces his guest, Frank Sesno.
  • [3:20] What are the best qualities of an interviewer?
  • [6:40] Are the stakes higher for journalists asking tough questions today?
  • [11:45] Why preparation is so important for journalists and interviewers.
  • [16:20] Assets that scientists have when it comes to asking questions & public policy.
  • [19:00] How should scientists adjust their language when working with policymakers?
  • [21:30] Frank talks about the power of storytelling.
  • [24:45] To master the art of storytelling, you’ve got to look at the classics.

Connect with Frank Sesno

The power of questions


Have you ever watched an interview that went beyond boilerplate questions and got to the heart of the subject? It takes skill and a well-honed appetite for curiosity to move past the superficial and begin to peel back layers of intrigue. You don’t have to be an award-winning journalist to ask good questions. Embracing your curiosity and developing proper research and listening skills can help you in just about any career you choose. 

Consider in-depth research, asking questions, and listening as assets that you can use to engage with your peers and broaden your abilities. Don’t assume that these are common traits that everyone has; you can stand out and make an impact by training yourself to become a good listener and questioner. If you’d like to go deeper with this important topic, make sure to check out Frank Sesno’s book, “Ask More.”

Don’t just give data, tell a story


We’ve all been there, you attend a lecture, and you care about the subject matter, but the presentation is dreadfully dull, what do you do? Some people will power through the bland presentation; others will pull out their smartphone for a quick escape. What if there was a way to make data, statics, and research findings relevant? According to Frank Sesno, the solution is to train scientists and researchers to become better storytellers. 

The last thing you think of when a scientist or research comes to mind is a good storyteller. The good news is, these highly trained professionals are not destined to languish in the realm of jargon and insider lingo. Thankfully, innovative leaders like Frank Sesno are hard at work creating new avenues for scientists and researchers to get their message to a broader audience. In 2009 Frank formed Planet Forward to empower new voices and lead a global conversation on the planet’s future. Engaging a diverse audience of college students from across the country, Planet Forward uses storytelling, media, and educational events to tell the stories of invention and innovation that can move the planet forward. 

Make sure to catch Mark’s full conversation with Frank on this exciting episode of When Science Speaks.

Connect With Mark and When Science Speaks

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