Tips for a Successful Q&A Session
November 14, 2017 by Bill Rosenthal

Question and Answer sessions can be very helpful and effective after a presentation. Audience members are able to share their ideas and comments, get clarification on any questions, and further understand key concepts. While this time is very beneficial for everyone involved, it also may feel less formal than the presentation itself, which means that some may not properly prepare for this session.

The Q&A session actually requires just as much preparation as the “main event” of the presentation. If you’d like to give a successful Q&A session, remember the following six tips: 

  1. Use open-ended questions. – When you ask, “Are there any questions?”, you are limiting the response from the audience to only yes or no answers. Try asking “What questions do you have?” instead. This then implies that the audience has been actively listening and will have questions to ask.
  2. Encourage the audience to ask questions. – Use your body language to encourage and invite participation. While asking for questions, smile and lean into or talk into your audience.
  3. Ask a question yourself. – If you put out a question and have no responses, try asking a question of your own. For example, you could say something like “One thing I’m asked a lot is…” Then, give your answer and ask for additional questions to get the conversation flowing.
  4. Repeat the questions. - If you are presenting to a larger audience, some audience members may not hear every question that is asked. The common courtesy is to repeat the question into the microphone so that everyone can hear.
  5. Answer each question to the full audience. – As the questioner is asking their question, make direct eye contact. While giving your answer, distribute your eye contact throughout the audience and end by looking at the group as a whole.
  6. Avoid using “Good Question” as a reply. – Using this as an answer makes it lose its meaning. It not only makes people doubt your preparation, but also comes off as quite cliché.

Do not forget to use tact and diplomacy when answer questions, even if they are somewhat argumentative and frustrating. After the Q&A is over, thank the audience for their time and attentiveness during the presentation and close with a connecting statement. By preparing for the Q&A session, you will be able to deliver a presentation that inspires your audience to action.