A good conference presentation should always include a Q&A session at the end so that members of the audience can ask follow-up questions, or have points clarified for them. But too many Q&A sessions at the end of talks simply don’t offer useful information, or the audience don’t get what they need from them.
Here we take a look at three common problems in Q&A sessions, and provide tips on what you can do to ensure you aren’t making the same mistakes.
1. Q&A sessions can be intimidating, you need to build audience confidence
It is still an unfortunately common occurrence with a Q&A session at the end of a presentation: you ask if anyone has a question, and while you are sure that many have engaged with the talk, no-one puts their hand up. The problem here could be that no-one feels confident to be the person to ask the question, and it may be the case that you haven’t broken the ice.
If you want to have an interesting and productive Q&A session, you will need to make sure that the audience feel that they have a stake in what is going on. Try to introduce the concept of audience interaction earlier on in your talk. This way when the floor is opened up to others, they feel confident to speak.
2. The room has heard enough
You might find that by the time you get around to your Q&A session, many people are already getting up to leave. If you find that many people are restless at the end of your presentation, you are less likely to have a productive Q&A. The key thing to note here is that your presentation may simply have had too much talking.
If you have lost the attention of your audience, they are unlikely to remain engaged through the Q&A. So, it is a much better idea to add moments to allow your audience to regain their focus. For example, by using an audience response system to ask questions, you can break up the monotony of talking.
3. There’s not enough time left
You might also find that you get to the end of the talk and realise you only have a couple of minutes left for Q&A. When several hands shoot up with questions to ask you might find yourself having to rush through the answers, and not really providing the information that the audience is looking for.
This is why it is vital to leave plenty of time at the end of your talk to take questions without feeling that everyone is pushed for time. If you feel like your time is running out it can create pressure – and for the audience it can actually stop them from asking important questions.
At CLiKAPAD, our audience response system can be hugely useful in all aspects of Q&A sessions, so if you are interested in improving yours, this could be a great way to do so. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.