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How to organise a live Q&A

A live q & a is a great way to get your audience talking to each other, getting answers to questions and generating really engaging content for anyone to read at any time.


Things you'll need

  • A place to host the q&a – we use our own online discussion forums or blogging platforms. Yhe Guardian uses their news page comment boxes and many others use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
  • An expert panel – more of that later…
  • Willing participants
  • A moderator – ideally you wouldn’t need a moderator as the conversation should flow naturally, but a moderator can be useful to keep a discussion on track

Come up with a discussion topic

Live discussions can work with any number of participants and no topic can really be too broad or too specific as the discussion will go in its own direction. The most important thing is that the topic is relevant and explained in an engaging way to lure participants in.

Once you have come up with a topic, come up with at least three discussion points in case the moderator on the day needs to structure the discussion.


Find your panel of experts

Finding the right panel for your discussion cannot only help attract participants, but will guarantee you a good discussion - even if just the panel talk to each other it will still be interesting content. 

Pick their brains

It also gives you a chance to ask organisations/people you have been impressed with to showcase their experience and knowledge on a topic.

It's a ‘win-win’ for the panel - they get to talk about the work they do, ask questions they want to know the answer to, and all just by sitting at their desk for an hour or so – with the opportunity to do other work at the same time.

Make the most of their networks

Make sure you go back to them later with draft copy and tweets to share. Their networks will be valuable to promote to.


Set the right date and time for your participants

We do ours on a Friday between 1.30 and 3pm. We went for this assuming that on a Friday lunch time you'll be in the office and taking part in a live discussion will be something you can easily dip in and out of but it not be too intensive.

Make the date stick

It can be tricky to make a date and time for a live q&a stick so try sending outlook calender invites out. You can send links to these in newsletters (Microsoft do lots of good guides on this




Use Twitter and newsletters to talk about it, but don't kill it... research tells us that it in the case of live discussions people forget to stick it in their diary and therefore we focus our communications on the day before and an alert on the day.

Tweeting during the discussion can really attract the right user to dip into the discussion at any time.

Be clear

It depends on what platform you use but if you can, post instructions to take part, background information on the topic and biographies of the panelists on to the platform you are going to use for the live discussion e.g. the web page or the forum post that way the participants only have one link to remember.


The discussion itself

How to start...

Begin with welcoming everyone to the discussion and asking the panellists to introduce themselves.

Make the most of your prepared discussion points

From there the discussion should start organically however if it doesn’t, brush off those sub-topic questions you prepared and ‘start off the discussion’ with one of those and possibly ‘round up the discussion’ with another.

Real time analytics

It's at this point that we usually get the real time analytics on the go through Google Analytics that way you can see how many people are on your page, where they are from and what they are using. This can be useful for reporting on afterwards.




Make the most of the content you have. Make a summary and include it in your newsletters and tweets.


To report to your manager, team or organisation we record unique page views, total posts and average number on site.


Page last edited Apr 07, 2017 History

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