Popular television shows are great venues to look for ways to spice up your next panel program. It can be something as simple as riffing an idea from a game show (see my post on The Newlywed Game), mimicking a well known talk show or doing a takeoff on a news commentary.
So how do you take a lesson from TV and add a little pizzazz into your panel program?
Step One. Identify a program that you think your audience will identify with AND has the right blend of interaction. Some examples I’ve seen:
- David Letterman
- The Ellen Degeneres Show
- Real Time with Bill Maher
- Inside the Actor’s Studio
- So You Think You Can Dance?
- American Idol
Step 2. Brainstorm all the different elements of the program: the format, the staging, the guests, the conversational style, the interactions with the guests and audience.
Let’s take the David Letterman show as an example. He’s got several “bits” in his show:
- Top Ten list
- Unusual guests
- Stupid Pet Tricks
- Stupid Human Tricks
- Viewer Mail
- Supermarket Finds
- Dumb Ads
- Small Town News
- Ask Mr. Melman
- Dave’s Record Collection
- “The Guy”
And he does it behind a wooden desk with one guest coming out at a time. He’s wearing a suit with some spectacles and there is a band playing between breaks.
Step 3. Brainstorm all the potential ways you could infuse that same kind of look and feel into the program. Don’t worry about if they are any good at this stage, either! Just have fun with a few folks on the program committee and brainstorm the possibilities! For example:
- The moderator can come out and do a monologue like Dave, wearing a similar suite and glasses.
- The moderator can do a top ten list about the topic – and make it funny but also applicable
- Who might be an “unusual” guest? One that is on the periphery of the topic but still applicable/add value to the conversation? Or, can we have someone portray a luminary in the topic that we couldn’t possibly afford to come to our meeting?
Step 4. Now go through your list from Step 3 and see if any might have some real-world potential. (This is entirely up to you, the moderator and the program team. You can even get the panelists involved if they have already been selected!)
Step 5. Think of a clever title that includes part of the show’s name, but also the title of the organization, the topic, the meeting theme or other significant words. For example, a sales conference mimicked The Ellen Degeneres Show and called the program “The Sellin’ Degeneres Show.” I am often asked to moderate the deconstruction of a mainstage presentation at the professional speakers’ associations and I call it “Inside the Speaker’s Studio.”
Step 6. Have fun putting this together! Not only will you have fun, but the audience will too!
Listen to the podcast version of this blog to spice up your next panel program.
Photo source: Design Pickle
Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.