by Matt Alderton | June 07, 2019
Like periods at the ends of sentences, question-and-answer sessions often punctuate the ends of meetings and events. And for good reason: Meeting attendees want the opportunity to interact with speakers and personalize content to their individual needs and situation. But the truth is, traditional Q&As often are obstacles to attendee engagement instead of enablers.

"Traditional Q&A reinforces the engrained assumption that the presenter is the expert, and audience members are relative novices. This ignores today's reality that the smartest person in the room is the room," meeting designer, facilitator and presenter Adrian Segar writes in a post on his blog, in which he says traditional Q&As also suffer from being a "one-to-many" process. "These days, conference attendees come to learn and connect. But the only connection going on (if any) during traditional Q&A is between the presenter and individual audience members."

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to kick your Q&As up a notch. For instance, consider incorporating multiple Q&A opportunities throughout a session. "This helps audience members get answers to questions while they're top-of-mind, rather than waiting until the end of the session," Segar says. "It also increases interaction with the presenter, which can help maintain attendee attention and improve learning."

Or, take that concept a step further by turning sessions from lectures into discussions. "Traditional sessions have two parts, first a lecture, and then Q&A," Segar says. "Using a facilitated discussion format … I create a session that offers Q&A on an as-needed basis. As I share content, attendees can join me on stage at any time for questions or a discussion that I moderate. The session then becomes more like a live 'Ask Me Anything' around my content." 

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