Should you have a Q and A session? In general, it is an old stale model. When you ask, “Are there any questions?” typically the audience has not been given enough notice and it takes people too much time to come up with questions. Then no one raises their hands, and your talk is over. It is an embarrassing way to end. For the most part, especially with shorter and shorter talks being required these days, you never want to have Q and A.
Today, with shorter speaking times, you have got to be more concise with your words. Delivering a clear message is key. This is another reason you need to rehearse effectively. There is no time to warm up on stage. You only have a short amount of time to build rapport with your audience, deliver your teaching points, and close for the business. Make every second count.
What to Do Instead of a Q & A Time
Since there is no time for questions, there is something you can do instead. What you can say is, “I know you have a lot of questions and I want to answer them. I will be standing at my booth, come and ask me anything you like.” Then be where you said you are going to be because whoever walks up to you to ask you a question, are your hot leads.
When they come up to you and ask their question, do not answer it. Instead, say, “That is a great question, but I’m afraid we’ll be interrupted. Would it be okay if you give me your business card and I will call you tomorrow?” They are satisfied and you are freed up your time to welcome anyone else that may have a question. It works like a charm. You have successfully attracted those people who are interested in your products or services.
In the virtual world, it is not as easy. You do not have physical contact and cannot get their business card. Instead, you can say, “I know you have a lot of questions and I want to answer them” and then choose one of the following approaches to use:
- I am going to stay around – private chat me your question and I will be happy to answer it.
- I am going to put my email in the chat, and you can email me your questions.
- Let us set up a time to meet, and I will be happy to answer your questions. My calendar link is in the chat.
Sometimes event organizers may give you 15 minutes for your speech and 5 minutes for a question-and-answer session. Take the full 20 minutes for your talk and deliver more content.
If the organization you are speaking for insists on having a question-and-answer session, then here is how you handle it. Have a common question ready, a question that people typically ask you. When you are ready for the Q and A portion, you ask, “Are there any questions?” Wait one beat and then say, “A typical question that is asked me is, “What do I wear when I speak?” I go ahead and answer it. Then, I say, “Are there any more questions?” That will give people time to formulate a question and ask it. If there are no more questions, then I finish my talk.