Q&A sessions are part of most scientific and medical conferences these days, and are widely popular amongst attendees. And that is for a good reason: They give them the rare opportunity to ask questions directly to an expert and interact with the presentation content.

Yet, blindly choosing one attendee out of a big crowd has its pitfalls. While you as the organizer and the presenter can spend weeks preparing for a presentation, the Q&A session is largely out of your control. Questions can be random and or regarding subjects that are not interesting for a majority of the audience.  This is why an “Ask” feature in your event app can make a big difference. Here, attendees can submit questions from their seats via a mobile app and send them to the podium. A moderator will then see the submitted questions and can choose which ones are answered by the presenter. Not only will this put you back in control, but it will also allow attendees that don’t like to speak in front of an audience to ask their questions.

We assisted many clients in the planning and execution of app-powered Q&A sessions – and have learned a lot from them. Our Head of Customer Success Management Clara shares 3 questions that you should ask yourself when using the Ask feature of your mobile app.

Is this feature a good fit for my audience?

When considering implementing an Ask feature at a Q&A session, you have to have your audience in mind: First, think about the number of attendees. If your session has fewer than 20 attendees, it might be a better fit to let them ask their questions personally to the presenter. For bigger audiences, it is a great idea to use your app as a tool to raise questions. But not only the size of the audience, but also their mindset matters: Are they open to technology and willing to use their mobile devices during the session? To make sure that everything goes smoothly, you should encourage the presenter of the session to explain how to ask questions in the app. Is your audience large enough and ready to use their phones? Then you are good to go and ready for question number 2.

Do I want the audience to ask their questions before or during the session?

Next, you have to choose between 2 different times to use the feature. Should your attendees be able to ask their questions prior to the session or during it? By choosing to open the Ask feature before and close it sometime before the presentation begins, you give your presenter time to have a look at the questions and prepare his answers. This way, he or she can cater to the audience’s interests and incorporate their questions within his or her speech. Here, it is very important that you properly advertise the possibility to ask questions before the session. A good way to do so is by sending out a push notification to your attendees in the morning and encouraging them to submit their questions. But when closing the feature before the session, any additional questions that arise during the presentation might stay unanswered. Here comes the second, more traditional option into play: To assign a certain part of the session to answer the audience’s questions. Not only will this allow the attendees to get an immediate answer from the expert, but it also loosens up the atmosphere of a presentation. Both approaches have their advantages, so choose the one that best matches your event.

Who will be moderating the questions?

The session moderator of the Ask feature has a very important and crucial role. He or she needs to quickly read the incoming questions and decide which questions will be shown to the audience. Furthermore, the moderator has to look out for questions that are not related to the topic or inappropriate and delete these. We recommend you choose a moderator that is knowledgeable on the topic of the session, rather than an organizational staff member. This way, you ensure that he or she will understand the terminology of the often specific questions and is able to choose questions which answers are of value for the whole audience.

At Conference Compass, the Ask feature is included in all Event and Society Apps. Contact us if you would like to receive a personal demonstration or have additional questions.

Our development team recently brought some great updates to the Ask feature of our apps! If you are interested to see this tool in action, visit our latest ‘What’s new’ article.