6 Ways to Take Your Q&A Session to the Next Level

Q&A sessions can be highly educational when inserted into events effectively.

Question-and-answer (Q&A) sessions can be unpredictable, which is why some planners avoid incorporating the sessions into an event. But they can also be highly valuable opportunities that allow attendees to deepen their understanding of a speaker’s topic or connect the speech to specifics in day-to-day routines. Follow these tactics to make Q&A segments more effective:

1.    Dedicate enough time for Q&A sessions. Often, this segment is slapped onto the end of a presentation, with only a few minutes for attendees to ask one question, maybe two at best. To ensure more meaningful engagement, consider extending Q&A opportunities to match the length of the presentation. You might even consider flipping the format, with a short speech to kick off the presentation, followed by a longer Q&A session.

2.    Engage a strong moderator. A good moderator can boost the effectiveness of a Q&A session by establishing preset questions with the speaker or panel to ensure the intended message of the program remains intact; directing questions back to the topic of the program; and ensuring the session isn’t hijacked by one passionate attendee. A moderator can also help a speaker rehearse answers to anticipated questions.

3.    Host a Q&A session partway through the presentation. Break up the standard format with a Q&A period midway through the presentation. Attendees can get a better understanding of what’s been covered and can help direct the presenter toward areas of interest for the remaining portion of the session.

4.    Open questions to the audience. The speaker is one of many experts in the room. For a more open-ended question, consider posing it to the attendees to offer a more collaborative “answer by committee.” Not only will the person who posed the question receive a well-rounded answer, but the audience also will feel more engaged and enlightened.  

5.    Collect questions ahead of the event. This can help on several levels: The presenter can plan his or her talk to address key interests; the moderator can better guide this component of the presentation; and attendees will have the time to consider their interests instead of scrambling to come up with questions at the end of a presentation. Digital Q&A tools and social media are great resources.

6.    Utilize an app. If you don’t want to collect questions in advance, but want to make sure that introverted attendees aren’t overpowered by more passionate ones, consider using an app like SpotMe. It has a Moderated Q&A function that allows participants to send questions to speakers throughout the presentation—anonymously or not—so that everyone can have their voices heard.