Many conferences and events facilitate question and answer sessions as either part of a presentation or a stand-alone event. Q&A sessions give audiences the opportunity to find out more about certain topics or even ask a question to someone that they would never normally get the chance.
These types of sessions are great for keeping audiences engaged because no two sessions are alike. However, it does take time to prepare a successful Q&A event, and we’ll show you some tips that will make your event run even more smoothly!
Make sure that everyone is informed and ready for your event by having a briefing session beforehand. In this briefing you should invite the speakers or presenters, any moderators as well as people working behind the scenes such as stage managers. Here you should run-through the event program and establish any time limits or rules before the event. By doing this you can make sure that everyone is prepared for the event and iron-out any issues, thus taking steps to provide the best experience for your audience.
Making sure that you have enough time for your Q&A session is something you should address even early on in the planning stages of your session. Timing for a Q&A session depends on your set up. If the Q&A session should be something that you will have after a presentation, perhaps you want to allocate 15 minutes for questions at the end. If there is more than one presenter, then you may want to allocate more time for questions. If you are holding a panel-type Q&A event where there is no presentation and the majority of the time will be spend on questions and discussion, you will want to dedicate the majority of the time to the questions and minimize time spent on introducing the panel guests. You don’t want to have to rush the participants, or only have enough time to answer a couple of questions.
As well as making sure that you have enough time for questions, make sure that you stick to that time limit. If you find that there are a lot of questions left, consider continuing the conversation online and let your audience know that they can do this by following a certain hashtag. This way, you can stay respectful of people’s time whilst giving everyone the opportunity to have their question answered.
If you need someone to moderate your Q&A session, then make sure you choose your moderator carefully. The role of the moderator is to be the connection between the audience and whoever is answering the questions. They make sure that the questions that are being asked are appropriate and make sure that the event moves forward and doesn’t get stuck on a certain question.
The moderator should be someone who likes being on stage, is able to improvise under pressure and isn’t scared of leading the conversation, but not controlling it. If you are the moderator, make sure that you are prepared and that you have briefed all involved in the event. Remember, a great moderator facilitates the conversation, doesn’t join in or take over.
If you’re worried that you audience won’t have any questions to ask, or need some inspiration for things to ask, consider adding a few pre-prepared questions that can use to kick-off the session. This will give the speaker something to start with, and allow your audience more time to think about some things that they may like to ask about.
During your planning process, ensure that you have the right tools in place to make your Q&A event successful. If you want your audience to ask questions by speaking, make sure that you have a microphone to make that you can hear your audience ask questions.
Alternatively, use Mentimeter’s Questions from Audience feature to make the logistics of question and answers events really easy by letting the audience ask their questions with their smartphones.
At the start of the event, let your audience know that you will be taking questions to be answered during the event. This help your audience to think about what they might like to ask throughout the event - hopefully resulting in more questions from the audience.
As well as notifying your audience that there will be a Q&A session, you can also collect questions throughout the event or presentation. One way of doing this is by using the Mentimeter Questions from Audience function. Which lets your audience ask questions at any time, but will allow the presenter or the moderator control when the questions are answered. This will minimize any disruptions during the presentation, but at the same time ensuring that all the audience’s questions are answered.
You might find that some audience members want to engage in a debate during these types of events, especially around controversial topics. The presenter and the moderator should avoid indulging in such debates during the actual session as they take up time and are often only interesting for the person debating.
Instead, if you find that an intense discussion is starting, let the audience know that they can continue the discussion afterwards or give them a way to reach out to contact you after the presentation. This will help the session run a lot more smoothly and without any drama.
Mentimeter is the perfect tool for hosting question and answer sessions. Instantly add an easy-to-manage Q&A session with the Questions from Audience function.
Take a look at these resources to learn more about how Questions from Audience works: