Q&A is a time-honored tradition of most types of meetings, whether in-person, hybrid, or completely virtual. Follow these tips to get the most out of your next session and create an engaging environment.
- Schedule enough time. If possible, plan for at least 10 – 15 minutes of questions before you adjourn, more if the topics covered in the presentation are particularly sensitive, complicated, or urgent.
- Collect questions ahead of time. This will give you a good idea of what subjects are most important to your attendees. In doing so, you’ll also have time to adjust your presentation or speaker list to ensure these topics can be addressed. Whether or not you ask for questions in advance, take time to anticipate what you may be asked and plan accordingly.
- Prep your speakers. Work with your presenters so they feel more confident answering questions. Keep responses succinct and to the point. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” and make sure to follow up after the meeting.
- Prepare a few seed questions. Sometimes people are hesitant to speak up when Q&A begins. Help ease that tension and have a couple of questions prepared in advance. These can be taken from the list submitted by attendees before the meeting begins.
- Assign someone to monitor the chat. This lets your speakers stay focused while simple or common questions like “will the presentation be available after the meeting,” can be addressed in real-time. They can also compile and sort questions as they come in and have them ready to read to the presenters when Q&A begins.
- Encourage written questions. Ask attendees to submit them throughout the presentation. Even if you plan for people to ask questions verbally during Q&A, letting them post questions as they think of them is a great alternative, especially for anyone who would rather not raise their hand during the meeting.
- Create an inclusive environment. Make sure you’re taking questions from all sources equally. Go back and forth between chat and the phone. During hybrid meetings, mix and match between questions in the room and those online.
- No one asking questions? Turn things around and ask some of your own. This doesn’t have to be anything formal like a poll. Think about the kind of information you’d like to learn about your attendees connected to the topic at hand. Ask for their feedback or immediate reaction to what was presented during the meeting.
- Share the transcript. Create an FAQ or summary of the session and distribute it with your meeting materials. This is especially important if you run out of time to answer everyone’s questions during the meeting.
Q&A can often be the most important part of your meeting. It’s the time when you can firm up how well the material is understood and it’s a great time to engage with your attendees more personally. As with every other part of your meeting, taking the time to plan and organize before your event will help ensure a productive and memorable experience.