Answering Hard Questions:  A Tester’s Communication Clinic

Tutorial F     Start Time : 14:00     End Time : 17:30

Testing is about asking questions and getting answers. We ask questions of the product and the product answers by exhibiting behaviour that we observe and analyze. But there’s another set of questions we have to deal with: as we make our way through the project, managers, developers, and other stakeholders ask questions of us. “How long will testing take?” “When will testing be done?” “What’s the best practice for getting this job done?” “Are we ready to ship yet?” “Is the product good enough?” “What is the rate of passing and failing test cases?”

You might feel under pressure, and you might not know how to answer them helpfully. Some questions are hard to answer because they’re politically loaded or emotionally challenging. Some are impossible to answer because they’re based on faulty premises, or beyond the limits of our ability to know. Some questions are easy to answer on the face of it, but hard to answer in a way that’s not misleading. In this one-day experiential workshop, you’ll bring your challenging questions to share with the group. We’ll use discussions, exercises, and role playing to develop on strategies and tactics for handling tough questions quickly, clearly, and confidently.

Key Takeaways:

  1. We’ll learn and share strategies for answering questions in helpful and informative ways, emphasizing clarity and legibility.
  2. We’ll learn approaches for dealing with questions that are asked and framed in unhelpful ways.
  3. We don’t know yet! The takeaways from any experiential workshop are dependent on the participants’ own experiences and learnings that happen in the moment and on the day. There will be lots of them, though.


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  • Speaker


    Michael Bolton - Founder, DevelopSense, Canada

    Michael Bolton is a consulting software tester and testing teacher who helps people to solve testing problems that they didn’t realize they could solve. In 2006, he became co-author (with James Bach) of Rapid Software Testing (RST), a methodology and mindset for testing software expertly and credibly in uncertain conditions and under extreme time pressure. Since then, he has flown over a million miles to teach RST in 35 countries on six continents.

    Michael has 25 years of experience testing, developing, managing, and writing about software. For the last 18 years, he has led DevelopSense, a Toronto-based testing and development consultancy. Prior to that, he was with Quarterdeck Corporation for eight years, during which he managed the company’s flagship products and directed project and testing teams both in-house and around the world.

    Contact Michael at [email protected], on Twitter @michaelbolton, or through his website,

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