Q&A sessions are a great chance to ask experts their thoughts on topics you’re interested in. Be prepared to make the most of them. Have you ever seen an inspiring presentation but been too nervous to ask the speaker a question?
If you are unsure what to do in this situation here are our tips for making the most of a question and answer session:
They want to hear from you:
The speaker has put considerable time and effort into their presentation. Asking a thoughtful question at the end shows you were interested in what they had to say and that their hard work was worth the effort.
Keep it simple:
Take the time to plan out what you’d like to ask before putting your hand up. Ask one question only, so you can give others a chance too.
Know what you want:
Think about what you want from their answer – are you seeking their expert opinion or strictly factual information? Word your question in the right context so the speaker can give you what you are seeking.
Stay on topic:
Don’t ask the speaker about an entirely unrelated topic. Instead, make sure your question is relevant and ideally one that will extend the discussion on the subject at hand.
Statements aren’t questions:
Don’t make a speech about your opinion on the subject; the audience isn’t there to hear you talk. Questions should start with ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ and should really only take one sentence to express.
Think about your tone:
The nature of asking questions means they can sometimes sound argumentative or attacking, so counter this by asking your question in a positive, respectful way. Always begin by expressing your appreciation for their work and their time, then make your point or ask your question and pay attention to their response.
Never interrupt the person when they are answering your question. It sends the message that you don’t respect what they are saying. Let them answer in full, even if you don’t think you are getting what you want, and clarify when they have finished.
Question and answer sessions are fantastic opportunities to learn even more from a great speaker – don’t let nerves ruin them for you!
Tips for getting the most out of a Q&A event:
- Speakers want audience participation
- Keep questions simple
- Make sure your question is relevant to the topic
- Ask your question in a polite and respectful way