Hosting a Q&A session can be a powerful way to bring people together, break down barriers, and make your audience feel truly listened to. These interactive moments not only serve a practical purpose, but they’re great for employee engagement. With them, you can give people a voice, uncover fresh ideas, and promote greater connections between people and teams.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at Q&A sessions and why they’re a great internal communication tool. Plus, we’ll share our best tips to help you host a meaningful and successful Q&A session.
What is a Q&A Session?
A question and answer session (known as a Q&A session) is an opportunity for an audience to directly question the speaker. They’re often found at corporate events and conferences, but you can also host an internal Q&A just for your employees.
Q&A sessions work well at events like:
- 🎤 Conferences and workshops
- 🎯 Strategy and roadmap presentations
- 🌴 Company retreats
- 👋 All hands meetings
Sometimes, Q&A sessions are standalone meetings designed to give everyone the chance to ask questions on a certain topic, like a new company policy. Other times, they’re found at the end of a presentation or workshop. It’s a time for questions on a specific topic or a wider range of areas, depending on the context.
Why internal Q&A sessions are useful for organizations
Q&A sessions bring huge value to the table for internal events and meetings. They give people an unrivalled opportunity to answer questions in real-time or bring up an exciting idea that they’d love to discuss. Here are some of the other reasons why internal Q&A sessions are worth hosting.
👔 Better access to the leadership team
It can be tough to coordinate calendars to set up personal meetings, but a one-to-many event can help speed up the dialogue process. Company events like Q&A sessions are essential in helping build connections between your leadership team and everyone else.
🎤 Platform for discussion
Q&A sessions give you a simple way to empower your employees by encouraging them to speak up. It’s also a time for you to listen and learn from them. This can also be an opportunity for inclusivity and a time to make sure that diverse voices are heard.
📋 Easy way to dispel rumors or share information
Sometimes rumors will spread about news at your company. Whether people think you’re planning a headcount reduction or moving into a risky new market, these stories can quickly build momentum. If the rumors become disruptive, a Q&A session can help dispel them in a clear, open way. People can ask direct, specific questions and get the answer right from the source.
12 tips to help you run a successful Q&A session
Ready to turn your planned Q&A session into the best one you’ve hosted yet? Here’s how to level up your Q&A session so that it gives everyone the best experience possible.
1. Do a practice run
Get the best possible start by making sure you’re prepared for your Q&A session. Test your equipment, sound, and approach before the event happens. It’s the perfect time to practice your public speaking before your live Q&A session. Say your intro and answers to expected questions out loud. You can get a couple team members involved too. Let them know how to support the person leading the event, whether it’s managing the chat window of the video call or asking people to mute themselves when they aren’t speaking.
2. Promote your Q&A session
Q&A sessions are often people’s favorite type of meeting, as it’s an opportunity to ask that question they’ve been wondering about. Let people know when your session is happening so they can come, ready and prepared. Whether your Q&A session is at the end of a webinar, town hall meeting, or a standalone event, list the details in an email, or message in the channel so people don’t miss out.
3. Be welcoming and approachable
People won’t ask questions if they feel under pressure. It’s hard to gather your confidence if you’re facing a speaker that looks like they don’t want to be there, will immediately challenge you, or isn’t engaged. Put everyone at ease by adopting a warm, welcoming tone and greeting as many people by name as possible. You could also use one of our icebreakers for Zoom to warm up your audience.
4. Set some ground rules
Every event should have some ground rules so that everyone knows what to expect. Tell people how they can submit or ask a question. Maybe you want them to raise their virtual hands, or maybe you want them to send questions through Slack, Teams, or the meeting chat (more on this in a bit). Always ask people to be mindful and thoughtful towards others — whether they’re asking or listening along.
5. Stay within your scheduled time
Unless you’re hosting a standalone event, Q&A sessions tend to be held at the end of another event. This means that people are often mindful of the time and may need to leave quickly afterwards. Let your audience know when the session is due to end, and let everyone know when you only have a few minutes left. Then, tell them how many more questions you can answer and how people who you couldn’t get to can get their questions answered.
6. Use technology to empower your audience
Encouraging your employees to ask questions in advance is a great way to not only help your Q&A session run smoothly but offer a layer of anonymity. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking out in a group call, but with Polly they can get their question in front of the right people.
Use Polly’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) template to help people ask their questions before the event kicks off, or our Teams Q&A feature if you’re hosting the call on the platform. You can use Polly for other great Q&A session features, too. Get your audience to upvote suggestions in real time, so you know which question to answer next based on crowdsourced excitement.
7. Get a moderator involved
You may not need a moderator for a smaller Q&A session, but this can be a helpful addition for a large group. Your moderator can help you field and prioritize incoming questions, keep the audience settled, and step in if there’s an issue. Look for someone with strong people skills and the ability to solve problems quickly.
8. Prepare answers for likely questions
You might already have some idea what your audience is likely to ask — especially if you’re hosting a Q&A session to address rumors, a press release, or major company news. Prepare an answer for these likely questions so you’re not caught off guard. This also works if you’ve asked your audience to send their thoughts in advance, as you can have the perfect response ready for submitted questions.
9. Have some questions ready if the audience falls silent
Even with the most engaged audience, your real time Q&A session can still fall silent. Have a list of potential questions on hand that your moderator can prompt you with. Great questions to include here might be around the company’s plans for the next quarter or if there are any new projects on the horizon. They’re easy to respond to and could prompt new questions from the group.
10. Respond to criticism respectfully
Not every question you field at a Q&A session is going to be positive, and that’s okay. It’s important to recognize the value of constructive criticism and negative questions and see them as an opportunity. Answer questions like this in a thoughtful, respectful way. If there’s no great way to answer them at the moment, suggest you continue the conversation at a later time. Just follow up after so your employees know you aren’t just avoiding the question.
11. Have a follow-up ready to send to your audience
If you’re hosting your Q&A session with a certain theme, have some materials ready to send to your audience afterwards. Maybe you’ve brought everyone together to discuss a change in your bonus structure or the way you manage personal development. Take that conversation further, or provide answers with a prepared guide or PowerPoint presentation. Send it to everyone after the event. This is also a great opportunity to promote your next Q&A and get the date in people’s calendars.
12. Be available after the Q&A session if possible
Sometimes, people won’t want to ask their question in front of others. That’s true whether you’re on stage at the end of your presentation or hosting a remote Q&A session on a video call. Give people the chance to approach you afterwards to ask a question. Ask people to send you a polly to schedule a one-to-one meeting if they have a question that needs your attention.
Lead Q&A sessions that make your team feel heard
The best Q&A sessions are the ones where your audience walks away feeling like they’ve been heard and that you’ve addressed confusing or concerning issues. They also leave the host and the wider company with a new appreciation for connection, debate, and transparency.
Hosting an impactful Q&A session doesn’t always come easy, but with these ideas, you can take your event from average to impactful. Take advantage of tools like Polly to help you bring a new layer of excitement and connectivity to your Q&A session, with engaging real time activities that bring people together. Check out how Polly's Q&A can help you streamline your sessions and make them more engaging for everyone involved.
Learn more about Polly's Q&A here
Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.