Question-and-answer sessions are great opportunities to show off your sense of humor and get audience participation during a public speaking engagement. Let's see how we can have some fun with them.
A good way to open up a Q & A session is to say, 'The last time I opened up for a Q & A session, the first question I got was 'What time is it?' or 'Can I be excused?' or 'Aren't you getting tired up there?' Say anything except the old boring 'Now let's open it up for questions.'
To be a fun presenter you must take every opportunity to do something different from the norm. To prepare for Q & A sessions you should spend some time anticipating questions and creating humorous answers to use before you give the real answer. Be careful not to sound like a smart aleck when delivering the humorous part of the answer.
When a witty response is offered to an audience question it appears to be spontaneous, but you can easily be ready with well-rehearsed responses. If you want to take more control of the humor used in a Q & A session, you can easily do that too. Here are two solid methods that I use all the time.
The first is to plant stooges in the audience. The second is a variation on an old standby Q & A method.
When I say that you should plant stooges in the audience, I usually mean that you should select one or more of the audience members to help you with the gag. You contact these people either by phone when you are doing your pre-program research or during the time you are schmoozing with audience members before the program. You simply ask them for some help during the talk. If they agree, tell them to raise their hand during the Q & A portion of the talk. They will be asking the fake question you have given them.
The question itself may be funny or your preplanned answer could be the zinger. Either way should get a laugh. Here's the hard part. You must supply the question. The more customized it is to the group, the better it will be.
It might be funny if you got the president of the company to ask a really dumb question like, 'How much did we pay you to be here?'
It might be funny if you got one of the top salespeople to ask when they get to take the company jet to their next sales call. Who knows what might be funny to your group? I sure don't.
I will give you a little hint though. The answer to what might be funny to the group you are addressing will most likely come to you while you are doing your research on the group. That is another reason pre-program work is so important. Sometimes all the humor is handed to you. All you have to do is plug it in.
If you want even more exacting control over the humor used in the Q & A session, you can use a very common Q & A technique. Solicit questions from the group to be submitted on 3-in. x 5-in. cards. All you have to do then is slip in a few fake ones. That way you get to be in control of reading both the question and the answer. This would be the way to go if you had worries about your stooges performing well, or if you didn't recruit any stooges.