A common question I am asked is “Should I practice for a panel discussion?” My pithy response is that it can’t hurt!
Seriously though, you should prepare answers for the questions you think the moderator will ask as well as a few curve balls that you think they might ask! Here's how.
You may end up with a disorganized, lackadaisical moderator who says, "go ahead - sit wherever!"
If that's the case, get there early enough to walk onto the stage and claim the best chair in the house! Place your notes, clipboard, or another piece of personal property on the chair. Here's where you will want to sit.
For my panelists who come from heavily regulated industries (or super vigilant businesses…), you need to super prepare for this panel. You don’t want people to walk away with anything, or worse, fall asleep during the discussion! Here is how to pull it off.
A panel presentation is a more traditional approach to having a panel: The moderator introduces each panelist, does some moderated Q&A with the first panelist, then moves on to the second panelist, etc. I call this format a "presentation style" type of panel. It is clearly not a panel discussion as the panelists are not having a conversation among themselves.
Whereas a panel discussion includes time for the panelists to interact with each other - either from the onset or after the panelists' initial remarks/presentations.
Why does this matter? Find out here.
It's possible that you, as a panelist, may not be able to insert yourself into a panel discussion. Perhaps it is because you're an introvert, or you're sitting at the end of a long row of panelists, or you're the outsider and all the other panelists know each other well.
Regardless of the cause, the moderator is not balancing the airtime, and you simply can't get a word in edgewise. Not to worry, here are some easy things to do to insert yourself into a panel discussion.
If you are on a panel with more than 50 people in the audience, chances are you are going to have to use a microphone during a panel discussion. Whether you're a panel moderator or panelist, you'll want to know some tips to use a microphone during a panel discussion.
A little worried about your upcoming panel discussion? Here's the good news: Stage fright or presentation anxiety is fairly common for new panel moderators or panelists, manifesting itself with dry mouth, sweaty palms, and an increased heart rate.
Here's even better news: There are specific techniques you can use to reduce that anxiety - and here's twenty-one ways to calm your nerves before a panel discussion.
So what is the optimal placement of a panel discussion in the program of a longer meeting, conference, or convention? The answer depends on what the objective is.
My colleague, Sarah Michel, used a creative “audience reflection panel format” at a recent conference. It went so well that her client wants her to repeat the format at next year’s conference!
While there are many (at least 9!) reasons to say “yes” to the invitation to moderate, there are an equal number of reasons to say “no” to an offer to moderate a panel discussion.
Back in 2014, I decided to hyper-niche my facilitation skillset into the panel moderation world. Moderating a panel is, quite simply, a very specific type of facilitation.
When considering various formats for an upcoming meeting, consider the advantages and disadvantages of a panel discussion – a live (or recorded), in-person, virtual, or “hybrid” discussion about a specific topic amongst a selected group of experts who share differing perspectives in front of an in-person, virtual, or geographically dispersed audience.
It’s a lovely touch to write and send a thank you letter after a panel discussion. After all, they have taken the time to prepare some comments and share their expertise with your audience. If you’re the panel organizer, the least you can do is send a thank you letter to the panel moderator and panelists. If you’re the panel moderator, consider sending a thank you note to the panelists as well!
Panelist Definition: A panelist is one among a group of people, typically 3-4 experts or practitioners in the field, who share facts, offer opinions, and respond to audience questions either through questions curated by the moderator or taken from the audience directly either in person, virtually, or remotely. Here is some criteria they should meet.
You've identified your desired slate of D.E.E.P. panelists and now you need to send them a panel discussion invitation by email (or if you're old school, by postal mail!). To have a comprehensive yet crisp letter, consider including these elements:
I’ll tell you what tips off the audience that the panel moderator is NOT fulfilling their role of being “Neutral & Objective.”
So you’ve been asked to be a panelist on a panel discussion and you and your colleagues are wondering, “Why you should be a panelist? Why stick your neck out there?” Here's why.
Although you have been selected to speak candidly about your perspective as a panelist, you may be wondering how to disagree respectfully during a panel discussion. It's bound to come up...you've done your research on your fellow panelists and you know you have differing opinions. Here are a number of strategies on how to disagree respectfully.
Panel moderator Kristin Arnold shares creative ways panelists can promote a book or other product or service tastefully at a panel discussion.
Should you bring the whole script? Read from the teleprompter? Bring some notes? Here is how panel moderators can strategically keep their script onstage.
Surprise and impress your meeting organizer by offering to pepper in notices, announcements, and promotions into your panel discussion.
Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold responds to a comment she received about the audience and the role of a panel discussion.
Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold shares a simple strategy to help panelists feel valued, engaged, and trusted.
While I have some preferences on how to moderate a panel discussion, there is no ONE way. It all depends on the topic, the venue, the panelists, and of course, the moderator’s own personal style.
My best advice is to make ALL of these small choices on behalf of the audience and the promise stated in the program materials. Listen for more.