Question & Answer Sessions

Steps to take to move from your monologue through the Q & A sections:

  1. Wrap up your monologue with a summary statement (see openings & closings for ideas).
  2. Pause for 1-2 seconds
  3. Ask for questions (you’re still in character here).  Audience usually applauds now.
  4. Always repeat the question so the whole audience can hear
  5. Answer questions in character until you’re signaled to stop or there are no more questions
  6. Do something to show that you’re switching to out-of-character: remove a piece of your costume (such as a hat, eyeglasses, an apron, a sword, etc. ) or simply turn around, to break the magic of being “in character”.
  7. introduce yourself as the student/scholar and ask for questions
  8. answer questions out of character until you’re signaled to stop or there are no more questions
  9. say, “thank you” and give a bow, nod, or curtsey to the audience
  10. enjoy your applause!

Possible in-character questions:  Always repeat the question first (so the whole audience can hear), then answer. 

  • Who influenced you most?/Who did you admire?
  • You are a ________ (chemist/author/pilot/etc.).  What do you think makes a great __________(chemist/author/pilot/etc.).
  • What was your most exciting/challenging/unusual/happiest experience?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What would you like to do next?
  • Do you have any regrets? Do you wish you’d done anything differently?
  • What advice would you give to a young person just starting out in your field of  __________? (acting/geology/the pirate life/etc.)
  • In your speech you mentioned that you did __________.  How do you do that?  (For example, if you said you “used something called a battery” or you “prepped your airplane for a flight”).
  • You are an author/actor/sports announcer/etc.  What is your favorite book/play/baseball player/etc. and why is that your favorite?

Possible out-of-character questions: Always repeat the question first (so the whole audience can hear), then answer. 

  • Why did you choose this character?
  • What is the most surprising thing you learned about this character?
  • What was the hardest part of researching this character?
  • How are you personally like this character (or NOT like this character)?
  • What kind of resources did you use to research this character?
  • Is there anything about this character that he/she would NOT have mentioned, but you think we should know?

More than Yes or No: The idea in all the question & answer sessions is to respond with something more than “yes” or “no” or just listing a simple fact. Try to expand your answer a little bit, but for time’s sake do not tell multiple long, drawn-out stories. 

The question you hope doesn’t get asked: No matter who your character is, there’s likely some part of their life that is unpleasant, or very sensitive, or that your research hasn’t found much information on.  Rather than just hope no one mentions that topic, think ahead about what kind of answer you’d like to give if you’re asked about a part of your character’s life that you don’t feel comfortable discussing in public.

What to do if you don’t know the answer to a question: Every question is an opportunity to reveal more about your character, so try to come up with some answer that is accurate.  

  1. Stop and think for a minute – maybe you do know the answer, or maybe you know how your character MIGHT have thought…. You don’t need to answer in the first second, it’s ok to pause and think for a moment just like people do in real life.
  2. Try to find some related information that you can discuss: if someone asks your father’s name and you don’t remember it, is there some story about your father that you could tell instead?
  3. Imagine how your character would react to a question he/she found difficult – would she be gruff (“none of your business”) or shy (“oh my, I couldn’t possibly discuss that in public”) or ???
  4. Don’t make up totally false information, but do try to come up with something that could be true for your character.
  5. It’s ok to say “I don’t know” if you have to.


What to do if the audience messes up, and the dreaded “How did you die?” question:  It’s normal for an audience member to make a mistake and ask you an out-of-character question while you’re still in character.  One common and scary question is when someone asks how you died when you’re still pretending to be alive!!  The most important thing is not to embarrass the audience or make them feel stupid for their mistake.  Instead, try to handle it gracefully.  Some possible responses: 

  • “That’s a good question, and if you don’t mind I’ll answer that in just a few moments.”  You can go on to answer any remaining in-character questions, and then after you switch to out-of-character questions you can immediately say, “I wanted to return to the question you asked earlier about how my character died….”
  • You can shift the question a bit, so if they ask “How did you die?” you can respond, “I hope I have many years yet to live, and in my remaining time I hope to accomplish…”  or perhaps you could respond, “when I die I hope I’ll be remembered for ______”.
  • Do some research to see if your character had any interesting quotes/beliefs about death that you could use to answer this question.

When you are the audience for one of your peers: Try to ask  how or why questions (rather than fact questions like how many children did you have or what were their names).

Planting a question in the audience: If you have a favorite question you like to answer, you can sometimes plan to have a friend or family member ask that question so you know you’ll have an opportunity to share your answer with the audience. 

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    S. as Julius Caesar

    S. as Julius Caesar