Five tips for Q&A in your webinars
Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post is from Maranda Gibson, the AccuConference socialite, blogger, and writer. If you appreciate people who keep the ‘social’ in social media as I do, you may appreciate connecting with her where we met…on Twitter (@accuconference).
One of the (many) fun things about working for AccuConference is getting the opportunity to sit on conference calls with my clients. There are times when I’m the moderator for the conference and take care of introductions and advancing the slides. There have been plenty of times where I’ve just been on the call to monitor because a customer wanted some back up. Being able to sit on these conferences has given me a unique opportunity to see how some of our clients are encouraging their participants to get involved. I’ve seen some of my customers get great feedback, so I thought I would share some of their secrets to getting feedback during and after your next webinar.
Ask for It
If no one knows you are going to want questions at the end the participants may not be taking note on what they would like more information about. The most important thing you can do is budget some time at the end of your webinar for Q&A – most of the time people will have a question or a comment and you want to give them an opportunity to ask.
Give Them Options
We all love Twitter and Facebook right? Give your participants all of the options possible to submit questions. Some participants might feel shy and therefore don’t want to speak up on the conference but still submit their question in a different venue. The popularity of Twitter gives a unique opportunity here and can essentially turn your webinar into a chat where your participants are sharing information on their own. Set up a hash tag and send that out on the invitations and be sure to put someone in charge of monitoring that stream.
Take Question Breaks
I have one customer who takes a break every 5-7 slide changes since the conferences usually last about two hours long. There’s a lot of information flying at the participants and it is important to make sure that they are able to keep up. This is also an effective solution when you are dealing with multiple speakers. You can take a break each time there is a speaker change and let participants ask questions to each speaker while the information is fresh on their minds.
Maybe you’ve covered everything by the end of the call and the participants have no questions – this makes you feel really smart, but now you have 20 minutes that was allocated for Q&A that is open. Have a good back up plan and use this time to announce upcoming events, do any housekeeping items, or opening the floor for questions about something that doesn’t pertain to the topic of the webinar. Silence is not always golden.
Plant a Sleeper
Okay, this may sound shady, but I don’t think it is. Great question and answer sessions can be held back if you have a lot of participants who are on the shy side of things. Have someone join in as a participant to ask the first question – and make it a good one. This isn’t to look “good” but it’s to break the ice. Sometimes it’s hard to step up and be the first one to speak up and if all of your participants feel this way you could miss out on some great questions.
So there you go. These are five things I’ve observed in my experience on webinars that increase the Q&A response. Q&A is one of the most important parts of the presentations because it’s where your participants get involved – what works? What doesn’t? How do you get people to respond when you are ready to take questions?
AccuConference provides conference call and webinar services, and Maranda provides tips on public speaking, hosting, and general communications (and, graciously, guest posts like this). 1080 Group does not take referral fees from conferencing vendors and there are no affiliate fees associated with this link.
4 thoughts on “Five tips for Q&A in your webinars”
I don’t think the use of a confederate is shady — after all, you’re not trying to get them to echo your ideas, you’re trying to get your audience to come forth with their own concerns.
I agree. And I almost added an “editor’s note” to the post to say that, so thanks for sharing!
There are folks who don’t like the idea, but you’ve addressed the way I approach it. It’s one thing if you’re trying to be manipulative. It’s very different if you know all the FAQs, maybe even know the likely audience’s pains and aspirations in a way that helps you help them open up.
Craig Hadden - Remote Possibilities
Thanks Maranda –- that’s such great advice, packaged so succinctly. I particularly like your tips about using Twitter etc, and about being prepared with a Plan B.
I’ve another tip: Use slides that match the topics people ask about. But how do you know what those topics will _be_? For the full story, see http://remotepossibilities.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/stop-qa-hypnosis/
By the way: Roger, I just noticed your tweet about 5 great opening lines (https://twitter.com/VirtualPreso/status/207831246900957184). Thanks for sharing!
You bet, Craig. Thx for dropping by!