A Q&A session seems like a pretty simple thing, but just the thought of it is often a source of stress and anxiety for the presenter. That’s because they are unpredictable. You can never know beforehand what questions you’ll get and how to prepare for them.
It can be embarrassing to ask “Any questions?” only to be met with a dead silence from your audience. But if you manage to liven up your Q&As the right way, they can become a valuable opportunity not only for attendees to voice their concerns, but also for you to reinforce your message and show your ability to think on your feet.
Successful Q and A sessions don’t just happen. There’s a whole lot of prior planning and art behind them.
Here are some tips that will help you plan and handle yours successfully.
Dedicate enough time for the Q&A
Often questions are left for the last 3-5 minutes of the presentation, when most of the attendees think about leaving and their minds begin to wander. Some people ask one or two questions, others feel uncomfortable to stretch the event for a few more minutes when the rest are about to stand up and leave.
To avoid this situation and ensure maximum audience engagement, you should allocate enough time to your Q and A sessions so that they match the overall duration of your speech. If your presentation is expected to last an hour, you should consider dedicating 10-15 minutes to the Q&A. This way you’ll be able to avoid the last-minute chaos and manage your event better.
Change the way people ask questions
Ensuring meaningful audience engagement is the key to interactive presentations. An audience that finds your presentation interesting will surely have questions to clarify or get your expert opinion about the topic. But if people feel uncomfortable to stand up, go to the mic and speak, you risk missing out on some good questions and the chance to elaborate on them.
If you want to start a genuine conversation with your attendees, you should make sure people feel absolutely free to ask questions during the Q and A session. To achieve this, you can use Swift Polling’s open-ended questions feature to let your audience submit their questions by text message.
The ability to ask questions without the need to speak before other people will encourage your attendees to participate, making your Q&A more lively and dynamic. You can provide your Swift number to the audience and ask them to text you whenever a question arises.
Collect questions throughout the event
This is a great idea for several reasons. First, people won’t have to keep their questions buzzing in their minds before you get to answer them, so they’ll likely be more focused on your speech. Next, you’ll be able to see and moderate all the messages before you show them on the screen, so you can highlight the good questions that deserve more time and attention. This will also allow you to modify your presentation to address the main interests of your audience and to increase audience engagement.
Use real-time text polls to connect with your audience
Break up the traditional presentation format and run a couple of polls during your speech to tackle the interests of your audience and naturally invite discussion ideas. You can ask what topics they’d like to focus on during the event, provide several options and let them text to vote for their favorite one. Audience engagement with Swift will enable you to receive responses in real time and even share them with your audience. You can even embed the results in your PowerPoint presentation.
Real-time polls will help you interact with your attendees and keep your finger on the pulse of what your audience is thinking.
Host expert panels
Expert panels are a good idea, especially when you’re presenting a broad topic and feel uncomfortable about some of its aspects. Consider sharing the stage with people who are more experienced in a certain area of your subject. Many CEOs and successful entrepreneurs use this strategy to make their presentations more convincing and insightful. Steve Jobs, for example, who was known as one of the greatest corporate speakers, invited his team members to take part in the presentation of new products.
Create interactive presentations with Swift Polling. Engage and excite your audience with web and text polls, online surveys and interactive Q and A sessions.