Whether they’re conducted in person or they’re virtual, Q&A sessions are a great way to connect with your audience and keep them engaged during meetings, conferences, and events. Not to mention, they offer your audience a chance to speak up, be heard, and feel valuable. At the same time, you can keep your finger on the pulse of what’s most important to your audience.
They certainly aren’t a new idea, either. Town halls and other question and answer sessions have been around for hundreds of years. But as the way we work changes, so does how we conduct meetings.
Traditional vs. virtual Q&A sessions
Traditionally, Q&A sessions during in-person meetings often work in one of a few ways:
- A question and answer period is scheduled toward the end of the meeting
- The audience can raise a hand at any point during the presentation to ask a question
- The audience submits their questions ahead of time for the presenter to answer during the meeting
As more and more meetings operate virtually, it’s important to adapt to this format however we can.
This also includes running Q&A sessions in virtual meetings.
Whether it’s allowing meeting attendees to ask their questions over video, sending in text questions, or other means of electronic feedback, virtual Q&As can be just as effective as their in-person alternative.
Tips for running virtual Q&A sessions
Today, we’re going to share our top tips for running virtual Q&A sessions successfully.
From moderating questions to organization and timing, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started.
First, let’s quickly discuss getting started with Swift Polling so you can run your own virtual Q&A.
Get started with Swift Polling
Swift Polling provides you with user-friendly, fast, and secure polling technology. Not only is it easy for you as the meeting presenter to use, but your audience will have no trouble using it either.
Don’t have an account yet?
The first step is to sign up with Swift Polling. When you register, you will enter your full name, email address, and password.
Then, you’ll follow these quick steps to create an online Q&A:
- Enter the dashboard and click on Create New Poll.
- Specify the question type: Open Ended
- Assign a phone number for SMS messages or a symbol combination to enter the online survey on the website.
- Click on “Start” at the bottom of the page
Now, you can choose to run your virtual Q&A in a few ways: you can have participants send their questions or answers via SMS or on the website.
If you choose SMS, they text their response to a number assigned specifically to you.
For the website option, they’ll follow a link to enter their response online. You can also embed these options in your PowerPoint presentation.
Introduce your virtual Q&A technology
Now that your account is set up and you’re ready to start your meeting, you’ll want to introduce Swift Polling to your Q&A attendees. Take a minute to tell them how they can join or send in their questions. You’re off to a great start!
Remind your audience to use these tools
Keep reminding your audience to upvote questions or submit their own as the meeting goes on. Often, it just takes one or two questions to encourage the rest of the attendees to submit their own.
Upvoting is a great way to see which questions are most important to your audience. Let’s say four questions were asked on a particular topic in a meeting of eight people. If six people upvote the same question, that’s a good sign it’s an important area to discuss in more detail.
Consider anonymity features
If you’re not getting as many questions as you’d like, you may want to consider enabling anonymity features. This means your audience can submit their questions or responses without displaying their identity to the meeting host or fellow participants. This way, even those who are reluctant to share can express their opinion with the comfort of knowing their identity is protected.
Note that anonymity is not available for SMS responses in the open-ended questions format that is used for Q&As. If you choose this feature for your next virtual Q&A, remind your audience to refrain from offensive or irrelevant questions and comments.
This is where our next tip for running virtual Q&As comes in!
Moderate questions as you go
Whether you appoint a meeting facilitator to do this for you or you do it yourself, you’ll want to moderate questions as you go. With Swift, you have the option of moderating questions before they’re displayed to the audience. This way, you can filter out repetitive, obscene, or irrelevant questions before they disrupt the meeting.
Leave enough time for your virtual Q&A
Question and answer periods can run a lot longer than we plan if we don’t set up a solid meeting schedule. That being said, always include some wiggle room with the understanding things usually take longer than we expect.
But you’ll want to allot a specific amount of time for Q&As and inform your audience about this ahead of time. If you plan to answer all of your Q&As at the end of the presentation rather than answering them as you go, let your audience know you’ve set aside 20 minutes at the end to do this.
Save unanswered questions
Even if you set aside time just for virtual Q&As, you might not get to answer all of the questions you get. But all hope is not lost!
If you’re not able to answer all of the questions you receive during your virtual meeting, you can archive these questions to answer later. You can also organize these questions into groups to streamline the process even more.
Whether it means planning another meeting to go over the answers, sending out an email with the questions and their answers, or touching base with the participant who asked the question, there’s a way to make sure everyone gets the answers they’re looking for.
Now that you’ve read these top tips for running a successful virtual Q&A session, it’s time to get started–go ahead and launch your most effective question and answer session yet!