Do people like ANYTHING about traditional audience Q&A?

Before creating Social Q&A as a standalone product, we asked people what they like least about traditional audience Q&A. We also asked them what they like most about traditional audience Q&A. We’ve tried to group responses into a few common themes.

We don’t like anything!

“Nothing” was the most common individual response when people were asked what they like most about audience Q&A, accounting for around 30% of all data collected.

Change of pace from the presentation

At a traditional presentation (a lecture), Q&A is a transitional signal that the event is nearing its conclusion. Everyone’s brain tells them to be ready because they may need to do something soon.

Ideally, audiences would stay engaged for the duration of a longer talk. In practice, this never happens; people maintain mental focus for 20 minutes and then drift away.

One person even said that Q&A is like a shot of espresso.

High-quality responses from a presenter(s)

Unsurprisingly, audiences enjoy thoughtful responses from a presenter. Typically this occurs when a presenter provides depth on a specific topic, like moving from theory to explaining how to do something in practice.

Another positive scenario is when a presenter is given a question from someone with a different worldview. Contrasting viewpoints create a very engaging conceptual conflict which audiences love to hear.

Being able to personally contribute and engage

People love being able to personally contribute to a lecture or presentation. Naturally, a few people noted that they love this part of Q&A, but more so in smaller, intimate settings.

What happens in larger venues? Well, raising your hand and speaking in that environment can be intimidating. Everyone’s eyes find the spotlight which is temporarily shined upon you.

This is a dangerous moment, because your brain is fully alert. Adrenaline has kicked in, ramping your heart rate and anxiety. And your brain is more likely to create a long-term memory, particularly if this moment induces a strong, internal, and negative reaction.

If you stumble on your question, or your mind goes completely blank, or you get a confused reaction from the presenter … you will probably remember that moment for years as the awkward time you embarrassed yourself in front of an audience.

So, personal contribution is a double-edged sword. It’s fun for some folks and nerve-racking for others.

Conclusion

Our goal was to build a product that transforms your Q&A experience. To do so, we had to know what people like and do not like about traditional audience Q&A.

Q&A tends to be a great way for a presenter to keep an audience engaged; it’s great at waking anyone who is drowsy. Q&A is even better when responses from the presenter add depth or introduce an uncommon viewpoint. Lastly, people enjoy being able to contribute personally, but in a larger, less intimate venue they may be intimidated into remaining quiet.

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