How to Conduct A Q&A Session Like A Pro

BY Jessica Helinski
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Post-​presentation Q&A sessions are a fantastic way to help your audience understand more fully the information you presented, as well as encourage engagement and discussion, which helps with building rapport and credibility. Unfortunately, not every salesperson will take the time following a presentation to do a thoughtful session. Reps may feel uncomfortable with the unpredictability of questions asked. Alternately, others might not take Q&A sessions seriously, expecting to just breeze through them with little thought. 

Both of these approaches can hinder the effectiveness of sessions, much to the detriment of the rep and the audience. “Your audience wants to be engaged in the conversation, to connect with you and your knowledge, and the Q&A is their chance to do so,” writes Stephanie Scotti for SmartBrief. “Q&A allows you to respond to your audience’s specific interests and concerns. It also provides immediate feedback on how your message was received, allowing you to clarify or redirect on the spot.”

Scotti shares some helpful tips on how to conduct an effective (and comfortable) Q&A session, three of which are discussed below.

  1. Engage the audience beforehand
  2. Start strong
  3. Encourage

Promote your Q&A session 

Don’t spring the session on your audience right when you’ve wrapped up your presentation. Give them time to prepare, and come up with questions, ahead of time by priming them. Both before and during your presentation, remind the audience that you will have time after for questions. “Say something like, ‘I’d like to thank our hosts for providing time at the end of the presentation for questions and answers, and I welcome your comments as well. Please jot down any thoughts so we can be sure to address them’.” Scotti suggests. If there is an agenda or any other paperwork you’ve provided, be sure that the Q&A session is included to give the prospects or clients a heads up.

Start off strong

It’s important to smoothly transition from the presentation to the session, so plan beforehand how you’d like to approach it. Fumbling for words or a weak transition can make things feel awkward, which can make the audience less likely to ask anything. 

Scotti has a suggestion to make this step easier. “After concluding your remarks, acknowledge any applause gratefully and modestly, pausing briefly before introducing the Q&A,” she writes.

When you begin, be sure to invite comments as well as questions. Keep in mind that while some listeners have a question to ask, others may have a valuable comment to contribute. The simple gesture of asking for both will boost participation.”

Also, eye contact with the audience is a must. Dropping your gaze can imply that you aren’t interested. While you may have to wait in silence after asking for questions, don’t look away. Instead, Scotti suggests asking, then silently counting to 10 while you wait for responses and scan the audience; this is usually enough to allow for a raised hand. 

What happens if no one speaks up?

There will likely be times that, at the beginning of your Q&A session, no one asks anything ever after the 10-​second lapse. Scotti has some suggestions to kickstart a dialogue: 

  • Have a plant in the audience. If you have a colleague with you, they can speak up with a question or comment. Beforehand, if you think you might have a shy audience, come up with a question or two that the colleague can ask to break the ice. 
  • Provide a prompt. “Based on your past experience or research about your audience, pose a question that you believe will be of interest to listeners,” she suggests.
  • Take a poll. This is a great way to drive engagement, as well as hear the opinions of audience members. 

These, along with Scotti’s other tips, can boost the effectiveness of your Q&A sessions, providing a valuable experience for both you and your audience. You will be providing an opportunity for everyone to learn more, create connections and improve business.

Want more ways to prep for your next Q&A session? Check out this article for even more advice. 

Photo by Campaign Creators