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Speeding Up and Slowing Down


Practice Group Report

This month we used a Practice Group activity Penny Tompkins posted on the Clean Forum a few years ago: ‘Flexibility with the Number of Questions Asked Per Minute’. (Thanks, Penny!) And with three rounds and each one taking about half an hour, we knew we’d have get started early on in the evening. So there was little time for chat before we launched into ‘Speeding Up and Slowing Down’.

We started by asking questions at our normal rate, working in threes and starting each time with “What would you like to have happen?” The observer noted how many questions the facilitator asked in 8 minutes.

In the next round, the challenge was to see how FEW questions we could ask. And in the final round, we had a go at seeing how MANY questions we could ask. After each of these rounds we also noted what needed to happen for us to slow down or speed up…


  • Use the full syntax

  • Build (NLP) rapport - get breathing in sync, mirror client’s body position, etc

  • Repeat client’s words in a contemplative way

  • Pay full attention to the client

  • Stay silent

  • Take better notes and don’t think about the next question

  • Pause before asking a question

  • Pick up on client’s key words

  • Back track

  • Ask location questions

  • Ask: “That’s like what?”


  • Don’t listen properly

  • Use the short syntax

  • Don’t repeat any of the client’s words

  • Don’t take any notes

  • Ask questions of the least interesting words

  • Don’t ask “Like what?” or location questions

  • Grab any small pause

  • Speak faster

While clients sometimes got useful information from the speeded up version, we concluded (once again) that LESS is MORE - the fewer questions we asked (because we were doing the behaviours listed above) the better the quality of information the clients got. And it was less stressful for the facilitators too!

The fewest number of questions anyone asked in 8 minutes was 2 and the most was 26. The ‘normal’ range was between 4 and 18.

The fact that we swapped groups for each round meant we got to work with several different people, and it was another enjoyable evening.

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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