When you start talking about the vision for the panel discussion and what it might look like, you'll see the implications for your choices for the moderator, panelists, structure, format, and logistics.
Many meeting organizers select a topic, and reach out to a couple of panelists who can talk on the subject. Ask one of them to moderate it and then move on to the next item on the meeting checklist.
Whoa! Not so fast! It IS a fabulous idea to start with a pithy one to three-word "topic" that serves as the major subject of the panel. But don't stop there! Here's how to pick a strong topic, premise, and title for your panel discussion.
It does not happen too often, but you could be the last in line to speak after the other panelists have detailed all of your prepared points. Yes, it is a bit disappointing, but do not despair. Even though your main points have been covered, you still have your own unique examples and a memorable headline to share.
Rather than reiterating what has already been said, try these sentence starters to expand the conversation and provide more insight into the topic.
Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold interviews strategic leadership advisor Liz Weber on her standout job as a panel moderator on a jam-packed success of a panel discussion at the National Speakers Association conference.
I was recently asked about how to create an inclusive environment during a panel discussion. It's more than being welcoming and friendly.
Here are nine things you can do to proactively create an inclusive environment where everyone feels respected and valued.
Ed Bernacki, Founder of The Idea Factory, shared this unique panel format he calls The Hypothetical Panel Discussion Format. Here is his explanation of the format from his ebook Seven Rules For Designing More Innovative Conferences.
Far too many panelists DON'T critique themselves and debrief after a panel.
You do not need permission to “bring fun” to the panel. It is not like a lunchbox where you open the fun up and there it is. The key to having fun on the panel is all about your mindset. If you are having fun, others will have fun with you.
The thing about “planned spontaneity” during a panel discussion is that it comes across as completely spontaneous to the audience. Here's one talk-show example of how to do something different, unusual…or even spontaneous!
During the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) Convention last December, the two convention chairs organized a highly unique (and funny!) panel that galvanized the audience.
The "He said, She said" format is particularly effective when you have a topic where there is no right answer. For example, in the speaking industry, there are myriad ways to run your business and just because it works for one person, doesn't mean it works for all. Here's how it works.
Congratulations! You had a good experience being a powerful panelist and want to be invited to participate in more panels. Here are some ideas on how to be invited to participate in more panel discussions:
I like to get to the panel discussion early - at least an hour or so earlier than the panel’s start time for several reasons. What can you do during that hour? Here's what you need to know.
Having a friend or two in the room can be super helpful during a panel discussion. Here are a few ways your friends can help you be successful during a panel discussion.
The order in which panelists offer their prepared remarks is a major factor in determining how they will be perceived. While each panelist will be speaking on the same topic, your pre-event meet-up should have ensured that your key points shed a different aspect or point of view in this segment of the program.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages to being the first, last or in the middle.
With dominating extrovert panelists, what is an introvert to do to stack the odds in their favor?
To answer this question, I called my colleague and author of Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces, Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D, CSP. Here is what she had to say.
I highly recommend finishing the panel discussion on a high note with a very clear call to action. It is this “final thought” that creates clear takeaways for the audience and positions you and your company as a resource. Here are some things to consider.
Promoting the panel discussion is not just the responsibility of the event organizer. As a panel moderator or as a panelist, you can help promote the panel to a wider audience, encourage them to attend, engage with the attendees, and follow up after the panel discussion is over.
At some point during a panel discussion, the panel moderator will turn to the audience and ask for questions. Most folks call this “Audience Q&A” where the moderator takes questions from the audience via text, question card, open microphone, or Oprah-style, depending on the event.
To facilitate a meaningful audience Q&A session, try these techniques.
Since ChatGPT has hit the headlines pretty hard, I thought I would use artificial intelligence to write this week's blog on "biggest panelist faux pas."
Amazingly enough, here is what ChatGPT answered:
It annoys me when panelists solely talk to the panel moderator and their fellow panelists - and never address the audience. After all, it is the audience that is benefitting from the panel's wisdom! Why not engage with the audience directly?
You may not be the panel moderator, but you still can involve the audience in small ways.
As a panel moderator, it is a best practice to use people's names. Everybody likes to hear their name AND it's a great cue for a panelist to know that a question is directed at them. But for goodness sakes, either call ALL the panelists by their first names or ALL the panelists by their official titles! Here's where things went wrong.
Perhaps you've been asked to serve as a panelist in an upcoming panel discussion...and you may be wondering, "What do I have to do to be prepared?"
That's a GREAT question, as I have seen too many panelists do absolutely NO preparation. Okay, they might have read the descriptive email on the flight into the city or briefly chatted with the panel moderator. I affectionally call this the "show up and throw up strategy," where the panelists think they can get by with sheer brilliance.
Unfortunately, it rarely works that way. A brilliant, D.E.E.P. panelist is willing to do the work. And it's really not a huge lift, but can make a huge difference to the audience and their perceived value. Here's what you need to know.
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.