Anticipating possible questions, and answering them on the fly, can be downright terrifying, especially if you’re new to hosting virtual events. However, studies have shown that more than 90% of attendees expect a question and answer period at the end of the presentation. So, let’s reframe it as the perfect opportunity for you to engage and connect with your audience, not just something you dread.
If you’re feeling a little anxious about your live Q&A session, here are seven best practices to ensure your Q&A is a success for you and your attendees.
Set Aside Enough Time
How much time you need for questions and answers depends on the type of virtual event you’re hosting. For webcasts, webinars, and video tutorials, you’ll want a minimum of 10-15 minutes, while virtual town halls may require more of a 50/50 split between presentation and Q&A. If you don’t get to all of the questions, let your audience know how you will address those that remain. You can opt for personal email, or take the opportunity to extend your audience engagement by addressing outstanding questions in a blog or video.
Tell Them How to Ask Questions
Are you taking questions via chat, phone or Twitter? Can questions be asked anonymously, or must attendees sign in? Don’t simply assume your audience knows the drill. It’s best to take a few minutes to explain the preferred method of submitting questions at the beginning of your webcast and again at the start of the Q&A session.
Prepare Some FAQs
Just because your webcast attendees want the opportunity to ask questions, doesn’t mean they will. So be prepared to offer up a few frequently asked questions yourself. This often helps attendees think of their own questions. You may also want to promote the Q&A in advance and allow people to submit questions when they register. If you think participants may be reluctant to speak up, give them the option to remain anonymous.
Pause, But Don’t Fidget
If you need a minute to think through a question or formulate and answer, you’re allowed a pause. Sometimes, asking if you understood the question correctly, and repeating it back, can help you gain clarity and give you the time you need to compose your answer. Just be careful not to fidget and move around too much. While pauses signal thinking, nervous twitches are often mistaken for dishonesty.
Admit When You Don’t Know
Fear of someone asking a question that you don’t know the answer to is probably the most common cause of live Q&A anxiety. The best thing you can do is admit that you don’t know. It’s human, authentic and honest – all things your audience will appreciate. Simply offer to connect the person with someone else in your organization who does have the answer, or take the attendee’s contact information and follow up after the webcast.
Keep Your Cool
The other common cause of stress during a live Q&A is the irrelevant question or, worse, the hostile audience member. The key is to answer all questions with the same professionalism. Diffuse angry questions by thanking the participant for their insight and agreeing to look into the problem. Deflect “left field” inquiries by rephrasing the question into one more closely related to the topic, or simply tying the answer back to the original message.
The final step in your Q&A session should be the wrap up. Take a minute or two to recap the new information discussed in the question and answer period and the presentation as a whole. Provide a list of resources or ways to contact you, as well as details about upcoming events. And don’t forget to drive home the call-to-action or next steps.
More Tips for Virtual Events
Looking for more tips and tools to make your webinars, webcasts, and other virtual events a success? Check out these articles:
- 7 PowerPoint Presentation Tips
- How to Become a More Compelling Presenter
- Common Digital Event Mishaps and How to Avoid Them
Worktank has spent nearly two decades helping nonprofits, corporations, and industry giants like Comcast, Microsoft, and SAP, refine their virtual events and build deeper relationships with their teams and customers. To learn more about how Worktank can help you, give us a call at 1-877-WRKTANK, or contact us.