If you’ve ever wished for a way to handle rapid fire questions during a public meeting Q&A, this one’s for you. At a recent storm preparedness workshop in Manhattan, partnering a facilitator with a speaker during the all-important Q&A session made sure even the most agitated questioner felt included, the process was smooth, and the speaker had ample time to prepare answers.
Here’s how it worked: Once the speaker finished, the facilitator opened a 20-minute Q&A by collecting three questions from the audience and writing them on a flip chart. He then restated the questions for the speaker to answer one at a time. After the first three had been answered, the facilitator collected three more, and on until 20 minutes had ended.
Here’s why this approach worked so well:
• The facilitator managed audience expectations about the length and process of the Q&A
• No individual could dominate the Q&A
• The speaker had plenty of time to frame each response
• Questioners—and the audience—saw and heard the questions
• The Q&A was controlled from start to finish
We’ve all seen meetings where the Q&A devolved into something less than productive—a good facilitator anticipates the unexpected with a toolbox of options that can turn the most contentious meeting into a positive experience. What are some successful facilitation techniques you’ve seen or used?