There is one big mistake many presenters make at the end of their talks. It is something you want to avoid at all costs, or you risk derailing your entire presentation: ending with a Q&A session.

What’s wrong with ending with a Q&A?

While it is conventional practice to end this way, a Q&A is dicey because it gives the audience control. Perhaps you’ve seen it: a presenter ends with Q&A, and someone asks a question that is off-topic, too personal, or even snarky, and it sucks all of the energy out of the room. Your talk was fantastic, but this is going to be the energy with which your audience leaves. You don’t want that. You want your audience to leave with the positive energy that your powerful, inspiring, and motivating closing words give them.

So when do I do the Q&A?

You have a few options of where to place the Q&A in your talk.

  1. Don’t. That’s right. It’s your talk, and you don’t have to include it. In fact, if the goal of your talk is to bring in business, some experts will tell you that a Q&A could lower your conversion rate.
  2. Offer time for a Q&A at the end of each talking point and make it just about that point. If your talk has three points, you will have three mini Q&A sessions that are focused on exactly what was just presented.
  3. Hold your Q&A session after your last piece of content, but before you make an offer for your services and go into your closing. If you’re making an offer to bring in business, this placement is really important. The Q&A must come before your offer, because you want to ensure that the last two things your audience hears is your offer — the exact next step you want them to take — and your short, inspiring, powerful closing.

Set expectations for the Q&A

Regardless of which option you go with, be sure to let people know up front how the Q&A session(s) will be run, i.e., how long will Q&A go for or how many questions will you take. This will help you maintain control and set expectations. Always remember YOU are in control of Q&A, not your audience.

For access to a guide with the exact words I use to set expectations for Q&As in any scenario, watch last week’s Episode 9 of Crazy Good Talks TV™!