4 Tips for a Fail-Proof Q&A Session

The Presentation Experts over at Duarte recently wrote a fantastic blog post about fail-proof preparation for handling audience Q&A. We thought it would be a great idea to take the advice from the Duarte post and expand upon it with ideas about how to integrate your Social Q&A app into the process. We summarized the key point’s from their article but you can read the full post here if you’d like.

Why is prep important?

Including an opportunity for Q&A during your presentation is a great way to engage your audience and gather immediate feedback. But don’t think you can just wing it; being unprepared can erase the memory of your fantastic presentation and leave your audience scratching their head trying to decipher your answer. Make Q&A prep part of your ritual when preparing to speak to ensure your presentation ends on a high note.

1. Have a Plan

Decide when and how you want to field questions. Think about where Q&A will fit well in the context of your presentation, and tee this up for your audience. If you would like them to hold all questions until the end, state that up front so you won’t have to address it again. Pausing for questions after covering a specific topic is another good approach – especially if your presentation is longer than 45 minutes. It can be a welcome change in format, and engage your audience in a new way.

How Social Q&A Can Help:  Pausing for questions periodically throughout the presentation is a great fit with Social Q&A and the app makes it really easy for you to stay organized. When you’re ready for Q&A simply switch over from your presentation to Social Q&A, or pull up the app on an iPad (or other smart-device) that you have with you. Since attendees will have been up-voting questions during the presentation, you’ll know which questions are most important to address right away.

You may not have time to answer every question that was submitted before you need to get back to your presentation so you can use the “snapshot” feature to save the list of questions that were submitted for each topic before clearing out the questions and moving on. This allows you to start fresh after each q&a session while saving and organizing the questions for each topic if you want to review them later.

The Snapshot Process

2. Answer Questions Proactively

When planning your presentation, put yourself in the shoes of your audience and brainstorm every potential question they might ask. Think specifically about where they may resist what you are sharing, and jot down questions that articulate their doubts. Directly addressing the concerns of your audience will make you look like a mind reader, and help build rapport.

How Social Q&A Can Help: Pick out a few questions that you think your audience might ask and pre-populate them on your Social Q&A session before your presentation. Once the presentation starts your attendees will be able ask their own questions and vote-up questions that they want answered. The most popular questions will rise to the top of the list so you’ll be able to tell how important those pre-populated questions really were.

snapshot1

You can even take it a step further and append answers to your pre-populated questions prior to the presentation. Once your attendees join your Social Q&A session they’ll be able to see the questions and view the answers that you appended.

This way your attendees won’t even have to wait until the end of your presentation to get some of their questions answered!

 

3. Anticipate EVERY Question

Once you’ve gathered all your content, review it again and look for new questions that might be asked as a result of what you are presenting. Make a list, writing down even the most outlandish and hostile questions. Gather others to help you brainstorm; their perspective will be different than yours and will yield questions you didn’t think of. Then rehearse your answers to every question.  Body language is important, too, especially when handling a hostile question. Consider practicing in front of a mirror or with a colleague, and take note of your default body language when confronted with an intimidating question.

How Social Q&A Can Help: Send out the link to your Q&A session ahead of time and have attendees start asking and up-voting questions that they want addressed. This will give you insight into what your attendees are interested in and will help you better prepare for the type of questions they might ask during the presentation.

4. If You Don’t Have an Answer, Don’t Fake It

Even the best preparation leaves the chance of being surprised by a question you didn’t expect. If you don’t have an answer, be honest. Take down the questioner’s contact information, do your research, and follow up with an answer. Don’t stick your foot in your mouth by making something up. A prompt and thorough follow up will do more for your reputation than a rambling explanation.

How Social Q&A Can Help: You can require attendees to enter their name and/or email address upon joining your Social Q&A session. After the presentation you can export the data spreadsheet and see the name / email of the person who asked each question and follow up with them directly.

You can also append answers to questions within the app afterwards and take a “Snapshot” of the session. Each Snapshot has a ‘Public URL’ that you can share with the attendees so that they can see a recap of the questions that were asked, and any answers you appended.