How to Talk to Users

December 23, 2022

As a potential founder, one of your most essential tasks is understanding your potential users' needs and wants. Talking to users directly is a great way to gather valuable insights and feedback. Still, it can take some work to approach these conversations. In the How to Talk to Users | Startup School video from Y Combinator Youtube Channel, YC Group Partner Gustaf Alströmer reviews the tips for conducting compelling user interviews.

Setting the Context

Before you begin the interview, setting the context for the conversation is essential. Explain the purpose of the discussion and how the user's input will be used. This will help the user feel more comfortable and open to sharing their thoughts and experiences. It's also helpful to give the user an overview of the topics you'll be discussing, so they can mentally prepare and have specific examples in mind.

Asking Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are a great way to encourage users to share their thoughts and experiences in their own words. Avoid asking yes/no questions or leading questions that may influence their responses. Instead, use questions that begin with words like "what," "how," or "why" to allow the user to expand on their ideas. It's also important to ask follow-up questions to dig deeper and understand the user's perspective.

Listening and Clarifying

It's important to listen actively during the interview and clarify any points you need help understanding. Repeat back to the user what they've said to ensure you've accurately captured their thoughts. It's also helpful to ask for clarification if you're unsure you understand something rather than making assumptions. This shows the user that you value their input and are genuinely interested in their perspective.

Summarizing and Validating

After the interview, take a few minutes to summarize the critical points that the user shared. This helps to validate their perspective and ensure that you accurately capture their thoughts. It's also a good idea to ask the user if there's anything else they'd like to add or if you missed anything important. This helps to ensure that you have a complete understanding of the user's needs and wants.

Wrapping Up

User interviews are valuable for gathering insights and feedback about your product or service. By setting the context, asking open-ended questions, listening and clarifying, summarizing and validating, you can conduct compelling user interviews that help you understand the needs and wants of your users. With these tips in mind, you'll be well-equipped to have meaningful conversations with your users and gather valuable insights that will inform your product development.

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