Expert interviews 3 Follow-up questions

Two people talking at a small round table
Two people having a discussion

In this lesson, we will practice focusing on a topic and asking for more detail on it using follow-up questions. This is essential if you need to get more information from an expert.


When you need to go into more detail about a topic, it is important to ask smooth follow-up questions.

Warm Up: 

A. Imagine your coworker says, "There was a big argument in the meeting yesterday! One of the people there got angry, and when he left the room, he slammed the door!"

What would you ask your coworker?

B. Now imagine a different situation. Your client says, "Sales this quarter are lower than projected, but they are still higher than sales from last quarter."

What kind of follow-up questions would you ask your client?


In the first lesson of this course, "Asking questions", you learned some ways to ask for more information. Now we'll work on how to ask for reasons.

A. In English, using “why” in a direct question can sometimes sound too strong. There are other ways you can find out why through indirect phrases, like, "Is there a particular reason...?"

Without looking at the language in section B, think of ways to ask, "Why did he say that?"


B. There are ways to soften the question even more,  

  • We can use “a little more”, “a bit more” and “about ___ in more detail.”
    • Can you tell me a little more about ___?
    • Would you mind telling me a bit more about ___?
    • Could you tell me about ___ in a bit more detail?

  • You can state what you want to know.
    • I’d like to know a bit more about ___.
    • I’m wondering if something happened in the meeting.
    • I was just wondering if you knew what happened in the meeting.

Look at these article excerpts. What kind of follow-up questions can you ask? Choose one excerpt and ask some follow-up questions about it.

  1. Benjamin Hubert, founder of the design company LAYER, believes that design should be for the people, not for galleries. His vision is to solve everyday problems in the best way possible. Clients approach LAYER because "they want a functional and affordable product that’s also beautiful".
  2. Jumpshot, a subsidiary of the popular antivirus program Avast, has been selling users' data to clients, including tech companies, consulting companies, a soft drink company and even a large hardware store. The free program is able to supply clients with a so-called "All Clicks Feed" that tracks every click and all time spent across websites in highly precise detail.
  3. Plastic and rubber beach sandals (flip-flops) are a huge contributor to ocean pollution. Mike Burkhart, a chemistry professor at University of California San Diego, is spearheading a project to make flip-flops out of algae so that, instead of creating pollution, they decompose naturally.