||Our Community Answers:
||Online Presentation Q&A?
In an online presentation how do we handle the question and answer session?
Thank you for your question. As you may already be aware, an online presentation is different from a casual online chat, as the presentation must be carefully choreographed so that the guest speaker is able to present their content, while allowing your participants to ask questions in an organized manner.
This means providing a venue that allows the guest speaker to present and answer questions from the audience one at a time, while enabling idle chit-chat to be filtered out. We recommend a moderated chat environment or live event auditorium. In a moderated chat environment you can prevent chat from appearing on the screen at all times and can present only the content which you require the
audience to see. This has several important benefits:
1. The guest speaker is not bombarded with questions in a haphazard fashion
which might disrupt the flow of the topic.
2. They have space and scope to pace their answers, knowing they are not
going to see another question arrive when they are in mid-sentence.
3. Their answer is not lost within a melee of other conversations.
4. Offensive, disruptive or otherwise irrelevant content is not visible to
Also, a moderated environment provides your
audience with an atmosphere which is most conducive to their
need to be able to read the conversation clearly and be able to contribute to
it. Notably, there are the following advantages for your audience:
1. Since there is no "white noise" in the room, they know that their question
and its answer is not going to be lost in a mix of "banter".
2. In a moderated environment they also know that their question has gone
directly to a moderator and has not simply scrolled off-screen to be ignored.
3. Participants gain more from their questions because the guest speaker is
able to answer them more completely and clearly.
4. Often a controlled chat event can feel more personal, more intimate, and
special in comparison to a regular uncontrolled chat room.
Where possible, a question and answer session is therefore best achieved
under the moderated circumstances as outlined above. In fact, it is very
difficult to perform any kind of coherent question and answer session under
We would also like to provide some additional tips to ensure that your online presentation runs smoothly for you, your audience and guest speaker.
1) Moderators should be sure to follow the presentation closely -
both the submission of questions and the giving of answers. By focusing, they
will be able to better manage the flow of questions, introduce related
questions where appropriate, and enable both speaker and audience to feel
that there is some natural progression in the topics being discussed. In
short, being a moderator does not simply mean assessing that a question is
suitable and then pushing it to the screen. If a moderator is truly "hosting"
an event, they will have half an eye on the shape of the conversation,
guiding it, introducing questions appropriately and assisting the speaker
with their answers - even prompting them where necessary. The other half an
eye is often on the clock to ensure that the speaker is giving both
themselves and the audience the best possible hope of answering as many
questions as they can in the time allotted.
2) Often a moderator will have to use some fancy footwork to handle situations
where questions have not been answered. Where possible, if there is a
likelihood that some questions will not be answered then it is advisable to
have an alternative means of posing them. For example, any questions not
answered during an event could be posted afterward to a web site page - with
answers, of course!
It is also important that the moderator communicate to the audience that the guest speaker will try their best to answer all questions submitted during the time allotted. Communicating this to the audience will let the audience know that their participation is important and appreciated.
3) Sometimes a moderator may even have to assess whether a full answer
has been giving to a question, doing so either by asking the speaker to
expand on a point if they feel that is merited or by returning to the
question-setter to ask if they were happy with the response. Diplomacy and
delicacy are the order of the day there, so as not to upset the speaker.
Other tips in brief:
- Moderators should also ensure that participants are thanked for their
questions, both before and after they have been submitted.
- They should also thank the speaker for their responses.
- Where possible transcripts posted after an event offer extra value and
allow those who weren't able to participate to view the event.
We hope that this helps and wish you the best of luck with your presentation!
- Jon Nix and Pam Thomas