Q&A Tips from Toastmasters International President
Want to learn how to execute a great Q&A session? Watch Toastmasters International President Chris Ford.
Last weekend, I attended an educational seminar led by Chris Ford. He was masterful in how effectively he encouraged audience participation.
He demonstrated many of the techniques covered an earlier article — Leading the Perfect Q&A — including:
- Announce the Q&A. He established the “ground rules” in the first minute (of his 1-hour session). Questions and participation were encouraged throughout the session.
- Encourage questions.
- Restate the question, perhaps in your own words. Chris rephrased several questions, generally expressing the idea more succinctly than the audience member had.
- Give your full attention to the person asking the question. Chris not only turned his attention to the question, but also walked toward the audience member asking the question.
- Don’t end your presentation with your last Q&A response. Chris ended the seminar with his own scripted concluding words.
Chris also demonstrated other techniques which led to an effective Q&A:
- Reward participation early and often. The very first audience member to ask a question was rewarded with an inexpensive gift. A reward was also given to the second, the third, the fourth, and many other people throughout the session. This established an excited mood in the room that led to tremendous audience participation. This also had a symbolic flair. Chris was seen as a giver, both of physical items as well as knowledge.
- Arrange assistants with portable microphones. The room was large, and the audience was scattered around banquet tables. Chris arranged for two conference volunteers (one on either side of the room) to provide mobile and dynamic microphones to capture audience questions. When hands went up, Chris quickly directed one of the two volunteers to the appropriate audience member. This translated into questions that the entire audience could easily hear.