Virtual Events

Building Successful Dialogues: How To Run Q&A Sessions for Virtual Events

Eventually Learning Team

Questioning is the ability to organize our thinking around what we don’t know.

Gripping Q&A sessions have always been a big hit at in-person business events. A live, probing question and answer round is something that the attendees eagerly look forward to - to mine new ideas, leverage productive business debates and gather the latest industry knowledge. Over and above static FAQs on event website pages, event planners have been using in-event attendee engagement tactics like Q&A breaks, live polling and gamification to harness more active audience participations and feedback. These also enable the attendees to pick their top industry figureheads’ brains to stay relevant in the competitive business context.

But with COVID-19 metamorphosing the on-ground events to virtual software platforms, the audience, these days, are witnessing more of multi-speaker Zoom, Google Meet live-streams and pre-recorded session views instead of face-to-face interactions. With their webcams and microphones turned off most of the time, the in-lockdown attendees have in fact assumed special importance to online polling, live chats, virtual networking lounges, on-demand content - more than ever!!

In consequence, it is pivotal to re-design Q&A session segments in the online event ecosystem, to optimize audience experiences. Here’s our take on perfecting the virtual Q&A session deliveries!

Use Technology to Shake-up Q&As

The traditional mic and camera system for fielding questions is obsolete. Get a toolbox instead, one that permits your audience to submit their queries using mobile devices, with a unique system called ‘Clickers’. As an alternative, you can also employ solutions like Mentimeter’s live Q&A feature to manage questions from a larger set of audiences, through smartphones.

A Swift Polling account is another quick and user-friendly way you can bring to life your virtual event Q&As. Here event participants can shoot their questions or answer them as well via SMS or through the website. It also has an upvoting feature wherein speakers can prioritize questions based on audience interests. For example, let us suppose five questions were asked by eight attendees on a particular industry topic, if four people upvote the same query, then it is considered an important topic for discussion.

The best live Q&A platform can be chosen depending on your audience size and budgets. Zoom Webinar is a good product for long form panel discussions and Q&As. You can also bank on Newny to crowdsource questions from all your event streaming platforms to a single terminal, that you can share with your Q&A stream.

Keep Virtual Event Query Sessions Under 15 Minutes

Set up a transparent meeting schedule and let your attendees know that you’ve set aside 15 minutes at the far end of your speaker presentation for queries, way ahead of the time. Remember your timing can be kept flexible depending on your event’s theme, attendee profiles and other concurrent sessions at your event.

Make sure you get a moderator on-board to stream timely Q&A sessions. You can even schedule some interactive Q&As during the sessions, instead of pooling all of them for the very end. In case you run out of time, you can provide your event attendees with post-event group-wise archiving portals or work on a blog that can answer your most common audience queries that were left unaddressed. Your attendees popping up their questions can also give you ideas for your next virtual event!

But, if a dozen or more questions are left unanswered, another solution you can consider is moving the conversation online by requesting the attendees to post the questions with your exclusive event hashtag on social media!

Preparing for, Promoting Q&As and Fielding Attendee Questions

It helps to ponder over the interrogation pathways that will be taken by your event attendees. Take reigns of your virtual event Q&A session by preparing answers for the following predictable question marks - way in advance:
  • General information of the company
  • Online purchase transaction from your brand website
  • Information of specific product or service
  • The functionality and details of your product’s working

Rehearse and practice your answering to attendees but do not develop and dissipate robotic responses, putting your event’s credibility at high risk. During the session, a good tactic you can put to use is repeating attendee questions to give positive reinforcement and clarification to the event audience, to follow along.

Also, some audience have no in-hand questions, for them you can set the ball rolling by asking open questions on your decided industry topic like “Do you have any questions regarding product marketing best practices in the FMCG sector?” Keep the answers concise and direct though!

It is important to give attendees ample time to prepare their questions – this is only possible if you promote your online event Q&A session as soon as possible through your event registration pages, event landing pages (give information on who will answer the questions, what all questions can be asked and how to submit the questions online). You can promote your event’s exclusive Q&A session on social media as well for bulk audience subscriptions. You can send a follow-up email sharing some Q&As addressed at your past theme-related events.

While collecting online doubts and queries, consider enabling the anonymity feature for those attendees who are unwilling or shy to reveal their identities to the host or fellow attendees. This will empower attendees to ask intriguing or debatable questions without the judgement from their superiors or peers. And if you ever find a topic-meandering question or a trouble generating question in your basket make sure to undertake the following action steps:
  • Thank the attendee for sharing the question and deflect the response by promising to investigate the thought in the future.
  • To respond to odd or inappropriate questions you can also say something like, “It’s a great question, but I don’t think its apt to discuss about this at this juncture, I’ll be able to resolve this with one-on-one discussion after the event!”

Get a Moderator On-The-Spot

An efficient moderator can turn a repetitive and unspirited question & answer online meets into a suave, exciting experience. Virtual Event Moderators also called as the virtual meeting facilitators can introduce the speaker panel to the audience, request audiences to ask concise questions and collate questions in advance, as also manage speaker-and-audience individual discussion timings for the online session – all with sheer charm and personality! Some traits of an ideal online Q&A session moderator that can scout for are:
  • Someone who loves the stage
  • A facilitator who can make improvisations under pressure
  • Someone who isn’t scared of leading the conversation, but doesn’t control it

Also, with tools like Swift Polling, you can moderate questions before they go live to the audience as well.

During the online Q&A sessions, sometimes you also need to pick questions from the chat and answer them one-by-one; at this time, you must inform the event attendees, “I am checking your questions in the chat.” during the event question answering session.

The Floor is Yours to Lead

A good Q&A discussion can bring the A-game in delivering amazing virtual event experiences. Build upon the value that your audience can get out of your virtual question and answer sessions, give your audience a better understanding of the event’s themes and boost their knowledge with satisfying industry know-hows!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Name some platforms that can use used to run Q&A Sessions.

Some good platforms that can be used to run Q&A sessions are Facebook Live, Zoom Webinar, Twitch and Live. These platforms offer features like comments section, creation of quizzes and polls and more.

How many attendees can a Virtual Q&A Session host?

A virtual Q&A session can host from a mere ten to thousands of event attendees on the online event platform. You can also even conduct post-session analysis to view your audience engagement levels through this medium.

What is the difference between In-Person and Virtual Event Q&A Sessions?

The major difference between In-person and virtual event Q&A sessions is that, at in-person events, traditionally, Q&A sessions were run towards the end of the event session, or the audience could raise their hand anytime in-between the live session to ask their question. But in virtual event Q&A sessions attendees can share their questions online only – via videos, text, live chat or electronic feedback forms.

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