MeetingPulse Audience engagement solutions
10 Ways to Prepare for a Live Q&A Session
By Aaron Lifshin on

It’s hard feeling connected to your co-workers and employees while working remote, especially if you aren’t used to it. But there are a lot of ways to make the most of business meetings throughout the week. One of those tricks? Q&A sessions. 

Live Q&A sessions are great to have after a meeting — whether it’s in-person or online — because they help your employees feel engaged and ensures they understand the topics that were brought up. 

A Q&A session following a meeting or a Q&A session after a presentation to clients or customers makes listeners feel heard and creates a sense of connection to the topic. 

Meeting Pulse is a live audience platform that’s all about engagement. We understand the importance of making your team or audience feel involved, included and valued. That’s why we want to give you a bit more insight into hosting an online Q&A session. But first, let’s explore what a live Q&A session is a little more. 

Why Should You Host an Online Q&A Session?

Okay, first thing’s first: Q&A stands for “questions and answers.” To host a live Q&A session, you need to utilize a live streaming platform that allows for the audience to respond, like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Then, you need to reply to their questions. That’s really it! 

Of course, there are nuances to properly hosting a Q&A session and things to do to make it more impactful, inspiring and engaging. We’ll definitely get into that. But let’s take a closer look at WHY you should even be taking the time to organize a live Q&A session: 

  • Increase employees’ interaction and keep their attention
  • Address employees’ questions directly
  • Allows the company to address concerns or questions
  • Provides leaders and CEOs a platform to connect with their company and team
  • Receive valuable feedback from your team

Interaction

During this time of social distancing, a lot of people have grown bored of Netflix and have instead started looking for ways to connect with other people online. That’s led to Twitch reaching its highest numbers of all time. That’s because watching streamers includes interaction. There’s a chat, the streamer responds — sometimes they even let followers play games with them or win prizes. This train of thought can be utilized in business meetings as well. 

A live Q&A session allows you to boost your interaction with your employees in real-time. You’ll learn valuable information while also building trust and loyalty within the company, since they’ll feel heard and appreciated. Having the chance to communicate will also ensure they are invested in the meeting and won’t become as distracted. 

Related: Town Hall Meetings: How to Engage Your Audience

Connection

During the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a lot less time to have face-to-face conversations with your employees, so they can sometimes feel disconnected. This is a chance to interact with them in real time, while also making sure everyone is on the same page. 

54% of remote workers in 2019 (before COVID-19) felt disconnected from the company. That number has probably increased. Q&A sessions ensure that you can make those personal connections with employees and teams. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to answer their questions and concerns in such a direct and personal way. 

When Should You Host a Live Q&A Session?

While having online meetings is important in times where face-to-face discussions and meetings can’t happen, it’s still important to limit the amount of meetings you have. A study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of managers felt that meetings kept them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and 64% said meetings “come at the expense of deep thinking.”  

Perhaps even more important, 62% of managers felt that meetings miss opportunities to bring teams closer together. So while meetings shouldn’t take over your work week, the meetings you DO have should focus on building teams up and connecting everyone. That’s why Q&As are so important — and that’s why every meeting should end with a Q&A session. 

Time of Day

When hosting a Q&A session, you obviously want to pick the most optimal time in order to have the most people present. But the best time is different for everyone. The best thing to do is to ask the employees participating in the meeting what time of day works best for them. Find out when they are most productive and let them work during those times if possible. A recent study found that employees are their most productive in the mornings during the first few days of the week. So it might be best to hold off your meeting until afternoon on Wednesday, using the Q&A as a mid-week check-in. 

How to Prepare for a Q&A Session

Planning and leading a Q&A session is harder than you might think. Here are a few quick tips on how to host a live Q&A session successfully:

  1. Practice ahead of time: Practice receiving and answering questions on the spot. Understand how to thank someone for a great question and if you can manage it in a live session, refer to them by name in your answer.
  2. Consider possible questions: Consider questions you’re likely to receive so that you can brainstorm around the best answers. Confident and succinct answers can go a long way. Remember to stay brief when you respond – don’t let your answer turn into a speech.
  3. Tackle difficult questions gracefully: In a live Q&A session, anything can come up at any time. Prep a cover-all response to address odd or inappropriate questions that don’t fit the bill. For example, you might say, ‘That’s a great question and although I don’t feel it’s appropriate to answer at this time, I’d be happy to address it one-on-one after the session.’
  4. Tell the audience in advance: Give the audience a chance to come up with some quality questions by letting them know there will be a time for Q&A. Besides soliciting better questions, it lessens the likelihood of long periods of awkward silence.
  5. Define ground rules: Let the audience know how to properly conduct themselves. Perhaps you want to audience members to give a certain type of introduction before they speak – or use technology in a certain way. Let them know. This gives the session structure and helps to maintain order.
  6. Plant questions: Consider queuing some questions in advance if you’re using an audience response system – or consider preparing a member of the audience so that they are ready to ask relevant questions of silence ensues. Whether it’s used during or at the beginning, prepared questions can help sessions to run in a lubricated, smooth manner.
  7. Avoid debates: If a question is charged, inappropriate, or provocative, don’t engage in a debate. Avoid dramatic dialogues – as it’s disrespectful to the audience and reflects badly on the presenter.
  8. Consider moderation: If you are hosting a large event, it might make sense to have someone on hand who can go around the audience to take questions. A moderator can also filter through questions to be sure that the questions that make if your way are appropriate and worthwhile.
  9. Watch the time: Have a clock or timer within view during the session. Do your best not to go over time, even if there are quite a few questions.
  10. Try not to point at the audience: Although pointing is common, it’s not the best approach as it can come across as domineering or rude. Use your eyes to single out audience members and describe the person you intend to speak to next rather than pointing at them.

Conclusion

During the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of employees can feel detached from their company. Many are new to remote work and are used to having the opportunity to talk with you and their co-workers face-to-face. A live Q&A session during an online meeting can really help them feel connected to you and the company, while also allowing them to clear up any questions or concerns they may have. 

If you’re looking for an interactive meeting tool that engages your employees, contact Meeting Pulse today

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