• Tech Talk: Facilitating Live, Text-in Q&A at Your Events

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    February 20, 2013

    by Kevin Grubb

    Consider the following scenario: You’re hosting a panel or solo speaker event. The room is full and the content is rich. Like a good host, you save some time for Q&A from the audience. Your panel or speaker wraps up on time and you turn it over to the crowd to get their questions.

    Kevin Grubb

    And … silence.

    Has this ever happened to you?

    As career and professional development educators, speaker or panel events often fall under our purview and can be effective ways to bring new ideas to our populations. How can we maximize the engagement of the eager and curious minds in the audience?

    Consider live, text-in Q&A at your events. We’ve tried it at Villanova with one of our largest solo speaker events on campus, and so far, we’ve loved it. Why? Live, text-in Q&A has helped us solve three major problems with traditional Q&A engagement at our event:

    • The content has generated so many questions from a participant that the participant can’t remember all of his or her questions—With live, text-in Q&A, participants can simply text in questions at any time, and an event moderator can hold onto it for the right time. After submitting the question, the participant can get right back to fully listening to the content presented.
    • Participants are worried about asking a question in front of others or worried that the question is “dumb”—When a participant texts in a question, his or her name does not have to be attached to the question. The moderator can deliver the question when relevant.
    • While you have the speaker or panel present, you want to make sure you answer the audience’s most salient question—The moderator will be able to see if one question is consistently sent in from the across the audience. The moderator can then make sure that question gets asked before your panelists or speaker leave.  

    There are many audience polling providers to research and consider. After we set up our poll, we provide a half-sheet of instructions to the audience about how to text in their questions. (See the image below for our instructions.)

    Managing the live, text-in Q&A is fairly simple: We have one staff member emcee the event, and another—who serves as the moderator—logs in to our account and monitors the questions that come in. As it gets close to the Q&A time, the moderator writes the questions on a sheet of paper and passes them to the emcee to facilitate the discussion.

    Of course, if the audience wants to ask a live question, we allow for it as well.

    Have you used technology to communicate with an audience at any of your live events? I would love to hear your best practices in a comment below.
    Live Q and A 

Tech Talk: Facilitating Live, Text-in Q&A at Your Events