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How to achieve Q&A success at keynotes

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Q&A sessions after a keynote can be a good way to involve an audience, a good chance to get some answers. Q&A sessions also tend to be very popular when celebrity speakers are involved, giving the audience the chance to meet the speakers up close and to ask more personal questions. However, there are certain things worth thinking about before organizing a Q&A session after a keynote. In the following you will find our best tips on how to achieve successful Q&As as well as some thoughts on possible problems connected with rounding off your keynote with a Q&A session.


Relevant tips: 

  • Tell your guests prior to the event that there will be a Q&A session.
  • Decide how you want to execute the Q&A session: Are people to send in questions beforehand with organisers choosing between them or do you prefer a more improvised style during the actual event?
  • Make sure to clear the Q&A session with the speaker, so you know they are up for answering questions after the keynote.
  • Remember to make time for the Q&A session. If your event is set to last two hours save around half an hour at the end for questions.
  • Make sure to keep the time schedule and keep track of questions; you might have to say: This is the last question, when you have around five minutes left of your event.
  • Make sure the actual room used for the keynote is also suitable for a Q&A session. How are people seated, is it possible to get light on the audience so speakers can see who is asking questions? Remember to bring microphones, preferably wireless, and two helpers who can carry the microphones around at larger events.
  • Choose a speaker who is good at handling questions, presenting relevant and good answers in line with the quality of the actual keynote.


Ideas for questions: 

  • Content: It is obviously a good idea to ask about the contents of the actual keynote. In case of a talk on motivation or job satisfaction you might want to ask about certain tools or methods or you can ask the speaker to provide examples or case studies to prove various points.
  • Personal: If you attend a keynote based on personal stories and experience, you might want to ask the speaker for advice on how to achieve success, on how to tackle certain obstacles or problems, focusing on what helped them make it through.


Possible problems when finishing with Q&A session: 

The speaker just finished a truly magnificent keynote, everybody just applauded, there is a feeling of momentum, of crescendo. Then: Any questions? And then: total silence. We all know how awkward this can feel, possibly leaving guests with a sense of anti-climax as they leave. It is important to know how to finish in style. The trick is to find a speaker who is good with Q&As or to reconsider a Q&A session is always the right way to go.

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