Hosting a Q&A session within your webinar may seem intimidating, especially if your webinar participants aren’t particularly talkative or if they are known to cause problems by creating tension with one another, being too opinionated, or rambling on without making a point.
Hosting a successful webinar Q&A session takes preparation, beyond simply creating the slides. Follow these 10 simple steps to truly make your Q&A rock the house.
How To Host A Phenomenal Webinar Q & A Session
- Tailor Your Presentation To Your Audience. A successful Q&A starts with a successful presentation. Adjust the amount of detail in your presentation based on whether your audience is lower level staff or management, and alter the degree of formality based on whether you’ll be speaking to your peers or to clients. Secondly, tailor your presentation to the type of company or organization. If you will be delivering the same webinar to 10 different companies, each webinar should have a slightly different “flavor” and should incorporate company logos, slogans, and/or tag lines as appropriate. With tailored information, participants will be much more interested in your presentation and will be more likely to ask questions during the Q&A.
- List The Q&A Session On Your Agenda. By making participants aware of the Q&A session ahead of time, they will be more likely to think of questions during the webinar. Furthermore, they will be prepared for the extra time commitment at the end rather than finding out at the last minute about a surprise Q&A session that they didn’t anticipate.
- Anticipate Specific Questions And Prepare Answers. By thinking of potential questions prior to the webinar and jotting down answers, you will come across as very knowledgeable and well organized. If time permits, you should write down your answers in full sentences so that you also come across as eloquent and professional. However, remember to speak naturally.
- Instruct Participants On How To Turn On And Mute Their Microphone. Believe it or not, background noise is a frequent problem during Q&A, as well as participants who do not know how to unmute themselves. Fortunately, many of the webinar programs today allow the host to mute and unmute people as needed, so be sure to understand these controls and test them before the webinar. Spend a minute before the Q&A starts instructing people how to do it themselves as well.
- Announce The Length Of The Q&A Session And Stick To Time. As the session begins, inform participants how long the session will be, and prepare “cutoff” phrases that you can use in case people drag on too long or create tension in the group. For example, “You have an excellent point about _____, which we can talk about more offline if you’d like.” Remember, not only is your time valuable, but also the time of your participants.
- State The Focus Of The Q&A. Also, mention any topics that should not be discussed, such as information that is not yet available or information that is confidential. This will give participants direction.
- Prepare Topics In Case Of Silence. Participants may be too shy to ask questions or unsure if their question is meaningful. Prepare interesting things to break the ice if needed, such as, “I’m often asked…” or “One exciting thing you all may want to know more about is…”
- Restate Or Rephrase The Question Before Answering. Begin your response by praising the individual who asked the question: “What an excellent question…” or “I bet that others want to know that too.” Then, if the question is already clear and concise, restate the question in case other participants did not hear it before proceeding to answer. If the question is not clear, rephrase the question in a concise format and then proceed to answer. Or, if you did not understand the question, don’t be afraid to ask the participant for clarification.
- Admit You Don’t Know. If you don’t know an answer, connect them with someone who does, or take the participant’s contact information and respond once you have the answer.
- End In Style. End with a short summary of the new information discussed, a list of next steps and any assignments, and/or information about future webinars and events. Thank participants and provide your contact information in case they have additional questions they want to discuss offline.