A question and answer session at your next seminar, conference or town hall meeting can offer great value to your attendees. This time allows your guests to leave with the information they want, clarification on topics discussed, and additional data on subjects that interest them.
However, for event planners, this type of format can pose challenges. You never know if you will have enough questions, if questions will be appropriate and on-topic, or if you will be able to receive and maintain the flow of questions. Here are few tips on how to make your next Q & A session a huge success.
Prepare Your Moderator and Panelists in Advance
Before your moderator and panelists even step on the stage, prepare them for any potential questions. Go over possible topics, teach them how to address difficult questions, and offer tips on responding correctly to questions.
Have Additional Questions Ready
While it is important that you offer ample time to the question and answer session, you also want to make sure that you have content available if you need to fill time. During some sessions, you will have too many questions. In other situations, you may receive very little. Be prepared by having backup questions that you can ask to fill up time and to motivate attendees to contribute.
Use Text Messaging to Gather Questions
If you want your session to run smoothly, be sure to have the right communication tools in place. Do you have a simple way (beyond running around with a microphone) to receive questions and have them available immediately to the moderator? One way to gather audience questions in advance as well as in real-time is through text messaging. Whether attendees are physically present or they are watching a livestream video or listening to live podcast from home, presenters can promote a call-to-action like “Text #MYQUESTIONS to 72345″ on the screen. Since most people have their mobile phones at all times, it is a useful way to gather questions from anywhere at anytime.
Choose Moderator and Panel Carefully
Your moderator and panelists can make or break your entire session. You need to find individuals who are not only articulate, but also entertaining. You don’t wan’t to work hard to promote your event, only to see half audience asleep! Make sure the participants you choose are able to add value to your session and deliver information clearly. This will ultimately make it an enjoyable experience for everyone in attendance.
Involve Your Audience
While you want to have plenty of questions for your panelists, sometimes the best content comes from the audience. Occasionally throughout the session, take time to ask the audience a question. Have them provide their response or feedback regarding a certain comment or use American Idol-style text-to-vote and watch their responses live on screen. Being versatile in your audience’s engagement can also be a great tool if you need more interaction among participants.
For a successful question and answer session, prepare accordingly. These events can offer significant value to your participants, so be ready for whatever comes your way.