We’ve spoken on here in the past about how to spruce up a Q&A session.
However, one of the things we learned from that post is that not everyone is a big fan of retaining the Q&A. Whilst some people view it as the best part of a talk (some even arguing that the entire talk should be a Q&A), others were more cynical, arguing that it drags, it’s often useless to the majority of an audience, and it’s abused as a soapbox for people to push their own arguments.
The Q&A is the full stop to a speech. It rounds off the talk, and gives the audience a chance to interact with the speaker.
Discussing the dropping of Q&A sessions from events felt a little like playing devil’s advocate, but the more we thought about it, the more we understood where the cynics were coming from. With this in mind, there are five big reasons we can see for ditching the Q&A session.
There may be no such thing as a stupid question, but there’s definitely such a thing as a pointless one. Between essays disguised as questions, or clarification of already discussed topics, the majority of questions asked in a session are of no use to the majority of the audience, yet everyone is forced to listen. This article by The Times lists some of the worst offenders when it comes to bad questions, and we’re inclined to agree.
Wasting Valuable Event Time
Attendees are given a finite amount of time to spend at your event. In a three hour event, attendees don’t want to waste 20 minutes listening to questions; they want those extra minutes to talk, to learn and to network!
Other Methods of Asking Questions
If your attendees do have burning questions, there’s more than one way to ask them. Encourage people to ask questions directly during the networking sessions, or ask your speaker to share his Twitter or Pickevent name at the end of his talk and invite questions there.
Every part of your event is structured and planned meticulously, so why leave part of the main presentation to chance? Sure, most speakers have preplanned answers for frequently asked questions, but if these questions are being asked often, why aren’t they being answered in the main body of the speech?
Lack of Innovation
So you’re thinking of scrapping the traditional Q&A, the stalwart of a speech. What can you do instead? One of our favourite alternatives is from this article by Christian Heilmann; having an interview-style Q&A cuts out the useless questions, means you can focus in on the cream of the crop, and cuts out the time wasted by trying to hear questions from the audience.