Why do a Q&A anyway?

5 top tips on making Event Q&A’s work

When you attend an event you’ll quite often find a Q&A session and if you’ve been to quite a few events in your time you’ll have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of event Q&A sessions, the one where the same person asks too many questions or where the speakers are unprepared or the Q&A goes on too long – we’ve all been there, so it’s not surprising that some event profs we’ve spoken to have questioned us about the value of the Q&A at all.

It gives audiences the opportunity to learn more about certain topics or to ask a question to someone they’d never normally get access to and for the organiser, it lets you know what your audience is thinking – which in turn helps inform decisions around your event topics, speakers and more for next time.

So how do you get it right?  Here we share 5 top tips on getting your event Q&A right, every time. 

Build-in enough time 

It’s one of the worst things about a Q&A, overrunning and once it’s inflow it can be very hard to get back control and get an event back on track, but it can be avoided! If you’re taking Q&A at the end of a presentation or talk then ensure you build in time to do that if you plan to take questions throughout your event, consider how many questions you’ll take, how long realistically will it take to answer these and what limits you’ll put on this, all of these things will allow you to build time into your event schedule ensuring your Q&A runs smoothly. 

Be Prepared

If it’s good enough for the Scouts! Seriously though if you’re choosing to run a Q&A make sure everyone is prepared for this by including it as part of your event brief, make sure all speakers and any of your event team know when the Q&A will be happening, be clear on who is taking questions, how you’ll distribute them between your speakers and any time limits you intend to put on answers.

Stick to your time limits 

Don’t let all that great planning go to waste, if you set time limits stick to them, make sure the person controlling the Q&A is aware of them and have a system in place so you can alert them if time is running out, a clock on the lectern or a countdown timer on the stage are great tools to help with this. It’s fine to be clear about these time limits from the outset with your audience too, then if time does run out it won’t come as a surprise that all questions didn’t get answered and you can take steps to engage them in another way such as via social media after the event. 

Use the right tools 

Give this consideration during your event planning stage. If you’re taking audience questions how will you hear them? Do you have a microphone to hand, do you need to book one? Can you engage with technology to assist with question submissions? And can you put someone in place who can feed these questions to whoever is hosting the Q&A? Think about how you want your Q&A to work and the tools you’ll need in place to make this happen, once you know what you need, make sure you’ve trialled and tested them before going live, and if you’re putting tools in place that your audience can engage with make sure they know about them well in advance so there are no surprises on the day. 

Plant a few questions 

Ever asked ‘ Does anyone have any questions?” to be met with a deafening silence and blank stares – yep us too! And it’s rarely the truth, people often do want to ask questions they just don’t want to go first! The good news is, this is a problem which can easily be overcome. As part of event planning ensure you’ve got a few questions ready to be asked at the start of the Q&A and utilise friends or contacts to do the asking, it looks far more genuine if it does come from the audience rather than someone who is clearly part of the event team so consider inviting along a free guest or two who can support your event Q&A by getting things started. 

And our bonus tip? Don’t waste the insight! The event Q&A will give you a view on what your event audience wants to hear about and what topics should be explored further so be sure to take that information with you as you plan your next event! 

Assenty provides user-friendly tools like Quick Polls and Question Boards which allow engagement with event audiences before, during and after an event. If you’d like to learn more about how Assenty could work for your event, get in touch today for an informal chat and a no-obligation free trial.