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.
At MeetingPulse, we provide real-time survey, Q&A, and polling software that runs from any browser, so your event attendees will never need to download an app. Anyone can easily participate using their smartphone, tablet, or laptop via a short link. The MeetingPulse audience response system was developed with simplicity in mind and offers a wide array of customizable options to fit a wide array of event feedback needs. Contact us for more information about our audience response system or click on ‘Keep Me Posted’ on our blog page to receive blog updates and our free ebook.