Q & A Highjackers ~ Fascilitator Headache Makers


How To Stop Q & A Grandstanding

A recent event I attended allowed for 15 minutes of questions following a panel discussion. The panelists are well respected and have accumulated a wealth of industry knowledge. I was anticipating a stream of brilliant questions from the attendees – what an opportunity to delve into the minds of talented people. Disappointingly, it wasn’t to be.

Two high-jackings took over the Q & A period.

You know the type – the people who broadcast their own agenda while brilliant questions from savvy people are left unasked.

Out of misaligned politeness facilitators don’t want to appear rude by interrupting. In fact the facilitator is ignoring (being rude) to the rest of the attendees who are biting their tongues hoping the diatribe will end.

How do you stop high-jackers?

Through bold facilitation, which is not easy when the highjacker doesn’t seem to need to come up for air.

As facilitators we need to interrupt – as simple as that — mid-sentence and mid-stream. Then invite the speaker to continue their conversation after the event.

Your audiences will thank you (and be silently rooting be for you).








Usually I don’t sign petitions. Why? Well I hate it when I look back and see that I had previously signed a petition and via an internet breadcrumb trail realize that the cause is not one I still believe in.

Yes, we do grow up don’t we?

But the CBC, or to the uninitiated the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is near and dear to my heart. Sage voices have kept me company during my previous career where I worked in a silo and appreciated the ample wisdom. Back in the day it was the booming voice of Peter Gzowski – I truly had a crush on the man but sadly never had the opportunity to meet him. My weekend mornings are now filled with the upbeat and articulate voice of Sheryl MacKay who has introduced me to emerging and established artists.

And then there is my heartthrob, Gian Ghomeshi, the host of Q. He is in the old Gzowski time slot and I’m sure that Peter is chuckling along with us at Gian’s wit and razor sharp interview style. [FYI Gian does craft and respond to tweets.] I had the pleasure of watching Gian masterfully interview an “Emerging Leaders” panel where he artfully questioned gender and race bias. He had some of Vancouver’s leaders squirming and them leaving with food for thought. Gian is not a politically correct, tow the line kinda guy.

I’m not a fan of fully government supported endeavours as IMHO it makes organizations flabby. But I don’t think the CBC is flabby, it gives me the dose of Canadiana that keeps my appreciation of the country I call home in check.

It appears that the CBC’s life is being threatened again. I’ve signed their petition below and know that I won’t regret the breadcrumbs this time. Will you?


Make Your Guest Speakers Shine & Bonus Point: You Will Appear a Brilliant Leader

Last week I attended a presentation that was hampered by weak facilitation. The result was an audience who quickly lost interest.

And to boot, the audience was just as uncomfortable as the speakers were. First the audience was embarrassed, then they were simply impatient because no one stepped in to rescue a situation that was falling apart.

The facilitator is the key to and responsible for a strong start, middle, and finish.

The Role of a Facilitator – Not a Juggling Act – A Strategic, Well Rehearsed Role

Three Tips to Stop Presentations From Losing the Audience

First Order of Business
Ask the audience to turn off their cell phones. I appreciate the reminder; sometimes my memory lapses and it would be the height of embarrassment for me to have my phone ring during a presentation.

Don’t be afraid to ask, this is a point of common courtesy.

Second Strategic Intervention
Have the presenter write their own bio with two simple directives. First it needs to be pertinent and directed to the speech at hand. Second it needs to be short. We’ve all endured the entire curriculum vitae that takes as long as the presentation.

The audience wants to know why the speaker has the authority to speak. If you receive a bio that is still too long, gently remind the speaker that everyone is there to hear the presentation – the wow factor – not the bio, which will be long forgotten.

Third Bold Move
I expect some backlash from number three.

At the presentation in contention, beyond the seating area, approximately 25 people were standing. And talking. And talking. People who were seated could not hear because of the background din. The facilitator or an organizer needed to ask them to move to another room. Come on folks it’s not high school any more.

You’re choice – do you want to be perceived as a brilliant leader who has the chutzpah to help create a professional event or are you willing to let it slide away because of politeness enabling. Hint: Everyone in the seated area wished that someone had spoken up and taken control.

Next Post

The facilitators role in fielding audience questions post presentation, how to present a gift of appreciation, and a simple method for a strong finish.

Image Credit: Emiliano Spada

Be bold. Get heard. Inspire action.