Awesome Presentations

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

Image of Emma Cullen
Emma Cullen2022-01-06
Many conferences and events facilitate question and answer sessions as either part of a presentation or a stand-alone event. Q&A sessions allow audiences 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!

  1. Hold a briefing session
  2. Plan the time
  3. Stick to the limit
  4. Get a great moderator
  5. Prepared questions
  6. Tools & Equipment
  7. Notify the audience
  8. Collect questions throughout
  9. 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 Q&A session is undoubtedly the most important point to focus on. Ensuring that everything runs smoothly, that audience members can easily pose their questions, and your guests can provide detailed and thought-provoking answers. 

Given that this is such an important part of the process, let's do a mini-checklist that you can go through to ensure that the moderating aspect of the Q&A runs smoothly. 

  • Consider using a moderating tool - This can help save a lot of time and hassle. While raising hands and walking around the room with a microphone is the traditional way of doing things, it is not the most efficient. A strong Q&A moderation tool can save time, make the experience more transparent, and the event runs smoothly.
  • Give your audience instructions - Audience members can be eager to ask questions but this enthusiasm can, at times, lead to rambling and over-explaining. Remind audience members to keep questions concise, to the point, and, of course, relevant. A good idea could be to use some sample or pre-prepared questions.
  • Give instructions to the guest - If you want to get through a large number of questions, remind the guest who is doing the answering that great answers don’t need to take forever to get through. Some of the best responses are brief. 
  • Provide the opportunity to follow up - If you run out of time, which happens, you can always provide guests the opportunity to submit questions, or feedback, online via your moderation tool. This can be a great way to see what people thought of the session - what can be improved, what worked well etc.

1. Hold a briefing session before the event

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.

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. Timing for a Q&A session depends on your setup. 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.

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 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 allowing everyone to have their question answered.

4. Great moderator

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, can 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.

5. A few 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 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.

6. Use the right tools and equipment

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 easy by letting the audience ask their questions with their smartphones.

7. Notify the audience at the start

At the start of the event, let your audience know that you will be taking questions to be answered during the event. This helps your audience to think about what they might like to ask throughout the event - hopefully resulting in more questions from the audience.

8. Collect questions throughout the event

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. This 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.

9. 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 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 afterward 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.

Next step: try a better Q&A tool

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.

Notify me about new blog posts


Ao enviar você aceita nossos termos e políticas de uso