Solution to unproductive Q&A session

Have you experienced in a meeting where someone had asked if there is any question to participants but failed to have people raise hands?

or, have you experienced that you weren’t engaged in Q&A sessions?

or, have you felt intimidated to raise hands in front of everyone?

In the art of workshop facilitation at CreativeGym, we teach an efficient way to conduct Q&A sessions.


Before giving you a solution, let me point out three major problems that we see in above contexts.

1: The setting allows only one person to ask the question at the time.

this means that next person has to wait until that question gets answered.

2: You are not engaged because you didn’t ask any questions.

When you don’t ask any questions, chances are that your brain doesn’t participate in the Q&A sessions. But when you do think about questions, your brain pays more attention to the entire course.

3: The question itself is attached to a personal identity.

The act of raising hands and ask questions at loud means people know who ask what kind of questions. This is one of the reasons people hesitate asking questions in public settings.


Solution:

Circulate question sheets and give time to fill them in, then collect, organize (sometimes vote) and answer.

Is that it? Is that simple? You probably knew this method and had experienced in the past? But do you really take time to do in meeting settings?


How it works:

1: Prepare sticky-note pads, blank sheets of paper, or cutout worksheets (see below) and pens for everyone.

Print out, cut and distribute

2: At the beginning of the meeting, distribute them to everyone and ask them to think of any questions during the meeting

3: Just before the Q&A time, give 2–3 minutes to encourage all participants to write at least one question.

4: Gather all question sheets, organize by related topics, identify popular topics

Optionally, if time allows, you can categorize them on a wall, and have everyone to vote their 3–5 most important questions with dot stickers or merely write stars on the sheet.

5: Start answering questions one by one, starting with most popular question

6: If time runs out, write brief answers and send out to all participants by email, etc within 48 hours.

It is essential to answer questions quickly before they forget about what they asked. And answering all unanswered questions promptly means the act of sincerity. Imagine your submitted question didn’t get explained due to time. You would appreciate having it answered, right?

What if I am doing remote meeting?

If you are doing remote meeting, online collaboration tools Mural.co, Google doc, Google slides are my recommendation. They can semi-anonymously input questions. I highly recommend Mural collaboration tool.

Image: On Mural.co, Group of remote users collaborated putting ideas on real-time shared board.

Why it works:

1: It simultaneously gives everyone a chance to think/write his/her question.

Instead of raising hands and wait for your turn to ask, this method allows everyone to ask questions at the same time. This increase the speed.

2: When you write a question, you are more engaged.

And act of everyone thinking about his/her own question increase participation.

3: It gives phycological safety by stripping away attached identities from questions

This point is probably most important aspect. It allows everyone to feel safe about asking any questions without being put on the spot. It also allows questions to be treated equal manner since who asked the question become less visible. (It is optional to write your name. )


That’s all for today! 
Thanks for reading!

Originally published on Creativegym.center