6 Ways to Create More Effective and Enjoyable Q&A Sessions

When it comes to the presenter’s Q&A sessions, traditional methods are often met with groans and eye rolling. John Pytel and Michelle Manier discuss some of the pitfalls of traditional Q&A and how to avoid them.

Annoying Q&As:

  • Microphone hijackers – One person in the group who gets up to the mike and rambles on about a question no one cares about can ruin the Q&A for the audience. Or else the guy who acts like an expert and takes up Q&A time giving his opinion.
  • Fear of speaking in front of group – Public speaking is listed as number one among fears people have most — so many avoid asking questions because they don’t want to speak in front of the group.
  • Forgetting questions to ask by the end of the session – Sometimes people have great questions during the session and by the end they forget what they wanted to ask.
  • Off topic or softball questions – Questions that have no relevance or are so obvious it is embarrassing.

Tips for How to Avoid Q&A pitfalls:

  1. Carve out a time specifically for Q&A and stick to it. This automatically creates a sense of urgency and helps the speaker keep the Q&A on point.
    Provide materials and encourage attendees to make question cards they can hold up.
  2. Give out a phone number to let attendees text in their message anytime. The key is to collect questions throughout presentation so the speaker can answer them at the end.
  3. If possible, use a moderator to facilitate the Q&A. A moderator can shift through questions asked and see the popular trends. This is an efficient use of Q&A time and ensures questions are important to the group.
  4. By using a technology tool like Social Q&A, speakers can audit the questions to make sure no one will undermine the discussion.
  5. Ask audience members for their “aha moments” and “key takeaways.” This tells a speaker how well the information was received.

How do you banish those Microphone Mikes or Nervous Nellies at your conferences? Do you have any ideas for avoiding Q&A pratfalls? Tell us your stories. We would love to hear.