Asking Questions Using BLUF
More so while using Live Chat but I have also seen this numerous times throughout questions asked during training and in the classrooms, members are not providing context or they are just gauging an interest.
A good example of this from a Live Chat is:
3:36 PM Hi, can you help me?
3:39 PM I have a question.
3:41 PM Anyone able to help me?
Asking simple questions like the ones above just to gauge whether someone is available might not seem like it takes a lot of time but it can add up to dozens, if not 100s of these per day. Every time a message like this pops up it takes other members attention away from focused work leading to sloppy communication which becomes a huge waste of time for everyone.
There are hundreds of other members online at any given point in time, and these members will more than likely not respond to your question as they do not know if they are able to help you or not.
What we can do though when asking questions is to jump straight to the point using the BLUF method which is a military communication standard.
BLUF is an acronym used by the military – it stands for “Bottom Line Up Front” – and is a communication standard designed to enforce speed and clarity.
BLUF is a very simple method whereby it puts the most important details that you don't want anyone to miss first. I.e. Don’t tease or wait before revealing your main point because members are busy and their time is valuable.
You should also always provide context. The BLUF communication standard reduces the amount of mental energy the other members have to use to understand your message and are therefore able to help you much better and quicker.
A slightly better approach could be:
Hey, quick question do you know if fitness is too broad as a niche?
While this isn’t a huge waste of time like the first example, it still lacks important context that is essential to allow the other members to fully help you.
A much better way to ask the question using the BLUF method could be as follows:
Hey, quick question. Do you know if fitness is too broad as a niche? I will be educating people on proper form when doing exercises and preventing injuries, along with recommending exercise equipment and also equipment to help with recovery.
You will see above that the context is important but it still doesn’t come first.
When the context comes before the “bottom line” (hence the name Bottom Line Up Front) the other members won’t understand why the context is even important to them. But once they know what you need, they’ll care about why you need it so that they can tailor their response to what it is that you need something for, as well as provide anything else that may be of use to you instead of providing something that may not be a good fit for what it is that you’re looking for.
By having the bottom line up front also allows the right member to answer your question, as we have many experts here at Wealthy Affiliate all with their own unique skills and knowledge.
Another good example using the BLUF method could be:
Hey, quick question. Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress, and can anyone recommend any good training or any plugins I need? I would like to create a members only social network style website in WordPress?
The context added to the question above would direct the appropriate member who knows about membership websites to respond along the lines of using the BuddyPress plugin with any appropriate links to training.
However, if the question had the following context:
Hey, quick question. Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress, and can anyone recommend any good training or any plugins I need? I would like to provide my members with hidden/paid for content that only they can view?
The above context would direct the responding member to respond with using a plugin such as MemberPress.
There could also be a third context to the same question such as:
Hey, quick question. Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress, and can anyone recommend any good training or any plugins I need? I would like to provide my members with structured training courses that can also be drip fed to them over a period of time?
Based on this context the responding member would more than likely suggest a plugin such as LearnDash which is an LMS (Learning Management System) plugin.
You can clearly see in the three examples above that the same question (Do you know if it is possible to create a membership website using WordPress?) could result in at least 4 different responses. The 1st being a simple "Yes", whereas the other 3, as they provide context, will guide you to the most appropriate solution for your needs. BuddyPress, MemberPress and LearnDash are all membership plugins, however, they all provide different and unique features based upon your requirements that can only be achieved by understanding the context of what the intended use will be.
If any of the questions here relate to yourself as being asked recently, my responses are not directed towards you and are generalised for all members.
I hope this helps you with asking questions so that you may get the best and most appropriate responses in a timely manner. Just remember BLUF when you ask your next question :-)