Cory House, speaker and Microsoft MVP, post polling in his Twitter account. The polling is about whether a question and answer session (q and a session) are needed or not.
Most of his follower voted for taking questions from crowds (64%). But in his article in Medium, Cory stated that he belongs to the minority. He prefers to chat after presentation than providing a q and a section. Q&A is so common that speakers do it by reflex. The moment they’re done talking, they say, “Any questions?”. All too often, this is a mistake, like Cory said in his article in Medium.
But according to Gary Genard, owner of he stated that there’s a group of people who actually can’t wait for a Q and A session because at last, they can have a true discussion with his audience. No wonder Q & A is, as he calls it, a “forgotten avenue of audience persuasion!” Do all of the above with style and skill, and you’ll go a long way toward strongly bolstering your authority and credibility with your listeners.
So, from those statements, does Q and A session is really needed? Let’s analyze the pros and cons first.
Pros of Q and A session
It’s your chance to clarify your argument – Challenging yourself to summarize essential information into a too-brief presentation period most of the time. Because Q & A gives the appearance of being audience controlled rather than speaker controlled, it allows you to expand your argument while responding directly to your listeners “off the clock.” The atmosphere created should feel more relaxed, while giving you greater scope to deepen your audience’s understanding.
Q & A is more conversational and natural than a one-way speech – All effective public speaking is conversational. Audiences want speakers to communicate with them honestly, openly, and in everyday language. The back-and-forth of Q & A should feel more comfortable to you AND your listeners.
Your presentation may have confused some audience, give them to understand in Q & A! – In such cases, Q & A is your golden opportunity to either continue to inform and convince—or to do so at last as you conclude your presentation. Remember that speakers who handle themselves with style and assurance in the rough-and-tumble of Q & A may win over some listeners for the first time! To understand your audience better even before you start speaking,
Cons of Q and A Session
Sitting in Silence is No Fun – Sometimes the speaker forgot to repeat the question asked. Unless it’s a small room, much of the crowd can’t hear the question being asked. So much of the room is sitting there temporarily disengaged, waiting for an end to the question they can’t hear. During this time, many attendees are looking at their schedule and wishing they could politely leave.
The entire crowd is held captive until they’re dismissed – Until the speaker says “thank you” to release the crowd, everyone is stuck listening to other people’s questions whether they like it or not. If an attendee has no questions, he/she should feel free to go. Forcing the entire crowd to sit through other people’s questions is a waste of their time.
In the end, there is no doubt that Q and A session is an important part of communicating with the audience. The point is, it is necessary and require different treatment depends on the situation and how many crowds attend your presentation.
Accepting questions after a presentation is effective in a small group, like in a class or a meeting room. This way everyone can pay attention to the question, give feedback if needed, and the speaker can answer directly without repeat the question. The one who still confused can engage with the question and make them more interested in the topic.
But, if you’re presenting in a hall, stage, with so much crowd, you better understand that not everyone interested in asking a question. Cory House suggested in his article to chat after instead. Before closing, you can say “I’m happy to take questions. Please come up and chat”. Often many people come forward and we chat as a group. Provide your contact info at the end so attendees can email or tweet later. You can also often offer a 5–10-minute retrospective out in the hall immediately after the session. This way, you set people free to leave as soon as the structured talk is complete.
You can also invite questions during speech sessions. Questions during the talk break up the monotony of one person talking. They’re much more likely to be focused and applicable. They take less time because the context is already set. And, since the person asking the question understands they’re cutting into your speaking time, they typically keep their question brief.
Whichever you pick, there is one thing you must do: A good speech is a performance. Like any performance, it should end decisively. Preferably, with a thoughtful, rehearsed, and memorable finish. For better or worse, people remember the ending most clearly.