8 Tips to Help You Run a Successful Q&A Session

April 28, 2023

Many conferences and events facilitate question-and-answer sessions as either part of a presentation or a stand-alone event. Hosting Q&A sessions allow audiences to find out more about certain topics or even ask a question to someone whom they would never normally get the chance.

These sessions are great for keeping audiences engaged because no two sessions are alike. It does take time to prepare for a successful live Q&A. To help you streamline the process we have compiled some tips tricks and advice!

  1. Hold a briefing session
  2. Plan the time
  3. Stick to the limit
  4. Get a great moderator
  5. Prepared questions
  6. Notify the audience
  7. Collect questions throughout
  8. Don’t start a debate

First thing is first! Let’s look at an incredibly important aspect of question-and-answer sessions. 

How to moderate a Q&A session

Successfully moderating a live Q&A session is undoubtedly an important point to focus on. Audience members want the chance to pose their questions, and your guests will need the opportunity to provide detailed and thought-provoking answers. 

Some points to consider are:

  • Using a moderating tool

This can help save a lot of time and hassle. Raising hands and walking around the room with a microphone is the traditional and inefficient way of doing things. A Q&A moderation tool can save time and improve transparency.

  • Give your audience instructions

Audience members can be eager to ask questions which may lead to rambling. Ask audience members to keep questions concise, to the point, and, of course, relevant.

  • Give speakers similar instructions

Remind speakers to keep their answers relevant and concise so they get through as many questions as possible. 

  • Prepare to follow up

You may run out of time so prepare to let your audience submit questions, or feedback, online via your moderation tool. 

How to run a Q&A Session

So now we get to the crux of the matter. What specifically can you do to improve your next question-and-answer session? Well, here are our 8 best tips. 

1. Hold a briefing session before the event

Ensure everyone is informed and ready for your event by having a briefing session beforehand. Be sure to invite speakers or presenters, any moderators as well as people working behind the scenes such as stage managers. 

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 and iron out any potential issues.

2. Enough time

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. 

If the Q&A will be after a presentation then allocate 15 minutes for questions at the end. If there is more than one presenter, you may want to allocate more time. For panel discussions, where there is no presentation and the majority of the time will be spent on questions and discussion, try to dedicate the majority of the time to the questions and minimize time spent on introducing the panel guests. 

3. Stick to the time limit

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 letting your audience know that they can do this by following a certain hashtag. 

4. Find a moderator

The role of the moderator is to be the connection between the audience and those they are speaking with. They make sure that questions are appropriate and that the event efficiently moves forward.

The moderator should be someone who likes being on stage, can improvise under pressure, and isn’t scared of leading the conversation, but not controlling it. 

5. Have prepared questions

If you’re worried that your audience won’t have any questions to ask, or need some inspiration for things to ask, consider adding a few pre-prepared questions in advance that can be used to kick off the session. This will give the speaker a way to start, and allow your audience more time to think and come up with ideas.

6. Notify the audience at the start

At the start of the event, let your audience know that you will be running a Q&A and when it will take place. This helps your audience to think about what they might like to ask and to wait until the time is right.

7. Collect questions throughout the event

As well as notifying your audience that there will be a Q&A session, you can likewise collect questions throughout the event or presentation. 

This will minimize any disruptions and keep people from asking questions out loud during the presentation and keep things moving once you get to the Q&A portion.

8. Don’t start a debate - facilitate that afterward

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 debates during the actual session as they take up time and are often only interesting for the person debating.

What’s the best Q&A format

Now you may wonder if your Q&A needs to follow a certain format. This can be something that an experienced moderator will be able to help with. It also heavily depends on the size of the group, the panel, and the audience. 

For town halls and all-hands meetings, we would recommend dedicating plenty of time to questions (as there tend to be a lot of these). If it’s at a conference then waiting until the end is usually the best way to go. 

Time to try premiere Q&A software

If you are in search of a Q&A platform that will help tap into the knowledge base of your speakers and your audience, then we have the solution for you. 

At Mentimeter, our Q&A feature allows anyone to ask great questions anonymously. Not only this but on many of our paid plans you can also moderate questions from your phone. All of this combined with the ability to upvote the most popular questions means that you can run a more efficient and effective session with far less effort. 

So, time to maximize the benefits while minimizing the hassle.

Want to learn about how you can improve your next Q&A?

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