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A 4-step plan to make your Q&A more audience-friendlyND

Lauren Weinstein & Matt Abrahams, Harvard Business Review, Tuesday September 18 2018

Here is a four step plan – remembered by the acronym FIRE – derived from the teaching and coaching experience at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business which aim to improve the Q&A sessions at conferences and town-halls. First, Framing. In preparing for interviews, most guests ask ‘What do I want to say?’ But the most effective guests ask ‘What does my audience need to hear?’ You will also benefit from having a clear speaking goal: what do you want your audience to know, how do you want them to feel, and what do you want your audience to do? Second, Inclusion. A good Q&A invites the audience into the experience. This can be done by using inclusive language (e.g. using ‘you’ and ‘we’ whenever possible) and by polling the audience. Next, Rails. Like a train needs rails, your content needs structure. Our favourite structure is the What?>So what?> Now what? structure. Finally, Examples. As you prepare for your next interview, we suggest the following: make a list of all the key points, themes, best practices, etc. you’d like to be prepared to share with your audience. Then provide examples and case studies for every one of them – these can be real or imagined.

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