Have you ever had multiple direct reports come to your office to ask the same question? Do you regularly feel the need to send emails to your team with status updates? If you answered yes to either question, it may be in your best interest to host Q&A (question-and-answer) meetings.
Hosting a Q&A session during each meeting is an excellent way to clarify points, reinforce key messages, and motivate your team. Read on to learn all about Q&A meetings, see why they’re important, and learn how to run a successful Q&A session with Fellow.
What is a Q&A meeting?
A Q&A meeting is a group session where employees can pose questions to their manager and one another to gain clarity on projects or upcoming initiatives. The format is often used at conferences and industry events so audience members can interact with speakers. However, this session is also an effective way for managers to bridge the gap between themselves and their employees in everyday meetings. This meeting style can be used to help communication flow between a company’s employees and leadership team, as well as to build trust among colleagues.
Why are Q&A meetings important?
- Improve internal communication: Remote work and asynchronous methods of communication can make it challenging to update your employees in real time. Q&A meetings allow leadership an opportunity to educate employees on any topics that may affect the group’s work at a time that’s convenient for everyone. Additionally, these sessions keep employees in the loop about changes and expectations, which can boost morale and improve team performance.
- Allow for more transparency: When managers are transparent with their team, they foster trust and open communication. Q&A meetings provide an opportunity for leadership to strengthen their relationship with employees by speaking honestly about company changes. During Q&A sessions, managers should disclose any new and relevant information about business performance, statistics, and the team’s overall direction. Maintaining healthy two-way communication with staff will help your team reach goals and operate efficiently as well.
- Encourage diversity of thoughts: Managers should support the diversity of thoughts and opinions within their team. Q&A sessions give employees a chance to speak up, be heard, and advocate for change. They also present an opportunity for employees to engage with leaders with whom they may not have had the chance otherwise. For example, if an employee has concerns about how a new workplace initiative fits into the company’s diversity and inclusion framework, they can pose it during the Q&A session to gain clarity and begin an open discussion.
Run productive Q&A meetings
Increase meeting engagement and productivity with a collaborative agenda that the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow!
How to run a successful Q&A meeting
1Add a Q&A section to the agenda
You can host a Q&A session one of two ways. You can either schedule a meeting to go through and discuss Q&As or you can add a Q&A section as a new item in an existing meeting agenda. Better yet, make Q&As a fixed part of each agenda to keep the communication flowing with your direct reports.
You don’t have to start from scratch. Choose from one of our 500+ ready-to-use agenda templates to get your meeting off to a great start. Once you select a template, add a Q&A section at the end and specify topics that employees may want to ask about so there’s a jumping-off point for the conversation.
Pro tip: With Fellow’s browser extensions, access your meeting notes right inside of Google Meet calls and your Google Calendar to supercharge team meetings and 1-on-1s without leaving the tools that you are already using.
2Dedicate a good amount of time to questions
Two minutes at the very end of your meeting isn’t enough time to host an effective Q&A session. If you’re adding a Q&A session to an existing agenda, allocate enough time for employees to ask plenty of questions and flag any concerns. For meetings between 30 minutes and an hour, include 10 to 15 minutes or longer for questions. Doing so will ensure that you have enough time to address all the questions. If there are remaining questions as the session wraps up, consider scheduling another meeting or taking the discussion to an online platform like Microsoft Teams or Slack.
3Encourage people to fill out the agenda in advance
Share the meeting agenda at least 24 hours before the meeting so employees have a chance to add their topics, talking points, and questions in advance.
It’s easy to forget to prepare for a meeting when you have a lot on the go. Use Fellow’s automatic meeting reminders to encourage employees to add their thoughts and ideas to the meeting agenda. These reminders can be set up through Microsoft Teams, Slack, or email. Those who aren’t able to attend the meeting can add questions as well and refer to meeting notes to review the answers to their questions once the meeting ends.
4Assign a meeting host
A meeting host is responsible for keeping the session on track and ensuring all talking points are covered. This person will also be the one to host the Q&A session at the end of the meeting. Therefore, the host should be a leader and welcoming individual who can prioritize the psychological safety of all attendees. They should also be able to break the ice at the beginning, send out meeting notes, and follow up with attendees as needed.
Other meeting roles may include an organizer, notetaker, timekeeper, decision maker, the voice of the customer, optional attendees, and informed participants.
5Remind employees of the Q&A at the beginning
One key purpose of a Q&A session is to keep each meeting running on time. At the beginning of each meeting, remind your team that there will be plenty of time to ask questions during the last part of the session. Encourage everyone to jot down their questions in the agenda during the session to ask at the end so the event can flow without interruption. Only allow attendees to ask questions before the Q&A period if they are urgent and directly related to the topic at hand.
6Stick to the time limit
It may be tempting to go over the allotted meeting timeframe, but this will only make your session less productive. As a best practice, aim to end every meeting on time. It may take some time to adjust to having a Q&A portion of your meetings, so don’t stress if you can’t cover every question during the first session. Stick to the time limit you allotted for the Q&A, answer additional questions asynchronously, and add extra time to the Q&A portion of your next meeting.
Did you know that Fellow makes it easy to track action items and send meeting notes? Once the session ends, encourage all attendees to refer back to their notes for clear next steps and to view a record of the discussion.
7Have backup questions
In the case that there aren’t any questions during the Q&A session, the meeting host should have a list of backup questions to pose to attendees. Questions like: “Was there anything we discussed during this meeting that requires additional clarification?” or “Does the team require any resources to get started on the action items we just discussed?” are good openers.
Remind meeting attendees that questions don’t always have to be aimed at team leadership. The Q&A portion of a meeting can also be used to ask peers or members of other teams for advice, clarification, and feedback.
8Answer any unanswered questions asynchronously
Asynchronous communication refers to communication that doesn’t happen in real time. If there are still unanswered questions at the end of your Q&A session, end the meeting and let the team know that you will answer outstanding questions asynchronously. Questions that aren’t time-sensitive can be answered in the hours following the meeting or in the coming days. You can also answer questions in writing by including them in your team’s internal newsletter or by recording and sending a quick how-to video and inserting it into your agendas and notes using Fellow’s extension for Loom.
Gone are the days of employees interrupting your workflow with constant project- and team-related questions! If you struggle to communicate important matters, add a recurring Q&A meeting event or a Q&A section to your next meeting to keep everyone in the loop and free up your precious working hours.
Get started by hosting meetings that employees will look forward to attending. Try Fellow today to host productive team meetings, build collaborative meeting agendas, and keep each other accountable.