When you ask people ‘Does anyone have any questions?’ everyone looks at each other and no one says anything, and it feel like a tumbleweed moment. This is a common problem- a lot of Q&A’s fall flat. Firstly not all speakers are good at handling questions, not everyone participates, and not all questions are relevant. Luckily, there are ways to make these sessions more engaging, interesting and fun!
- Give people information up front. Try and share as much information as possible with people up front to enable them to start thinking about ‘what it means to me’ and therefore prepare questions they may wish to ask.
- Do an inverse Q&A. Pose a question to the audience, ask them to discuss it with the people they are sitting next to and get a few people to feedback.
- Ask for reactions, not just questions. Invite people to share observations.
- Invite people to come up with questions in groups. Ask people to think of good, relevant questions in small groups. Then ask for some examples.
- Avoid asking ‘does anyone have any questions?’ The answer will invariably be ‘no’. Think of a specific question to stimulate thinking for example, ‘how might the changes I have outlined impact on your department/team/you?’
- Tell a final story after the Q&A. Stop the Q&A session a few minutes before the end to share one final example. That way, even if it falls flat, you can still end your session with a bang.