In this video I share:

  • How to help your audience think of great questions to ask, quickly
  • The best way to answer a very specific question so it helps more people in the room
  • The number one thing you should know about WHEN to do your Q & A (this can change everything about the audience experience of your talk)

Adapted transcript of video:

Hi there. I'm Michelle Barry Franco. Let's talk about how you can facilitate the most awesome Q&A session. A lot of times clients come to me really anxious about the Q&A session. If they've been asked to do a talk, and then include as part of that talk a question and answer session, they're just nervous about what might happen, because there's a lot of uncertainty with Q&As. Maybe nobody asks a question. That feels kind of awful. Maybe they weren't engaged at all, or people ask questions that you don't know how to answer, or that people will ask questions that just sort of take the whole conversation sideways, or one person dominates the Q&A. There's so much uncertainty around a Q&A. I want to give you some suggestions that will help you keep your Q&A session on track, and also handle things that might come up that make it uncomfortable for a lot of people. I'm going to give you three of course.

 First of all, when you invite for the question and answer session, give them some boundaries, some guidelines. You're going to say something like, “I'd love to spend some time answering questions that you might have. I'd particularly love to hear any questions you have around healthy eating and how to feed kids healthy foods, since that's an area I've had a lot of experience with in my own life and in my practice.” That gives them a guideline. It also prompts their minds to start thinking of questions, because you're giving them something specific to think about. One thing is, tell them, give them guidelines around how to start asking you questions.

The second suggestion I would make is, when someone asks a question, and especially if they've asked kind of a long question, which you've probably seen happen in sessions, rephrase that question in a way that certainly honors what they're asking, but that makes sure that it's clear for the rest of the audience, but also broadens it enough. A lot of times a person will go down, because they've been thinking about their own experience, they'll go down a really specific path in their own minds as they're forming the question. Let's say you are a relationship expert, and someone in the audience raises his hand and says, “My wife and I have been fighting about this one particular thing.” And it gives you a description for six years “And when we get to this particular point in the conversation …” He describes that to you. “… we both get really stuck. That's the place where we get the most heated. It all falls apart and we can never get past it.”

What you want to do then is step back from that, broaden the question to something like, “It sounds to me like you and your wife have had this same argument for a really long time. There's a theme around your arguing in this arena. The pattern seems to go in a similar way each time, and you get to this sticking point and you just can't get past it, because of some of the details of your sticking point. Is that accurate?” Then of course, he responds with whether it's accurate or not. Hopefully, you've done a good enough job, and I trust that you would, of describing it in that way. Then you can come out from that and say, “You are so not alone. This happens in marriages for sure, but also in a lot of other relationships. Here's what I suggest when this kind of thing happens for people.”

What that does is it brings it out from this one person's experience, so you don't end up going down a rabbit hole with them and also serves a larger audience better. It also allows you to give your most powerful experienced answer, because then you can bring in examples and stories that help, that may or may not be about marriage as one example. It could be that you have great friendship example that would apply to that particular pattern that happens.

Then third, and this is a big one, don't end on a Q&A. Do not end your session, your whole speaking session with a Q&A, because you don't know where it's going to go. Invite for the Q&A, if at all possible, invite for the Q&A after you're done with your third main point. I'm assuming you have three main points. After that third main point you're going to open up to questions, then you're going to come back around and do a summary, so that you're summarizing the main points you covered, because that was your best material. Not that great stuff didn't happen in the Q&A. But you're going to summarize, then you're going to give them your powerful close, that way you control the experience they have at the close of your session. If you do that one thing it will probably totally change your experience of Q&As and actually, your audience experience if you're speaking for sure.

I hope that's useful to you. I will see you next week with another tip. Take good care.