I’m always on the lookout for a smart, brisk panel discussion format, so I was delighted to witness Michael Wilkinson, Managing Director of Leadership Strategies moderate a 90-minute panel on Accelerated Growth Strategies for the ISA-Association of Learning Providers.

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He started with opening comments based on his research with a dozen companies that had grown over 100% over a five-year period once they had passed $2 million in gross revenues. He pinpointed five strategies from his research and shared some key learnings within his 15 minutes.  In fact, he set a timer on the PowerPoint slide to ensure he kept on time!

For the panel, he invited five executives – each of them representing a specific strategy.  Each panelist had four minutes to share his story – with the countdown timer running out with an audio file of applause!

Michael then asked the audience to discuss among their tables (we were in rounds of eight people), to identify three questions to ask the panelists, and to select a spokesperson.  Michael then asked each table to ask ONE question to ONE (or any) panelist – but only one panelist could respond…succinctly.  During the panelist’s response, Michael would move to the next table, so another panelist couldn’t really chime in.  (Obviously, there are pro’s and con’s to this strategy, yet time was ticking. Every table was able to ask a question and receive a thoughtful answer).

The audience members had the opportunity to join one of five breakout groups, one group per growth strategy, for a 25-minute Q&A and discussion with the panelist and other interviewed executives that employed that strategy. Michael then closed the session with a 10-minute debrief from the tables.

It’s no surprise that Michael created an upbeat combination of presentation, panel discussion, small group discussion and debrief – enabling the audience massive learnings.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Thanks, Michael for showing us how to balance great content with audience engagement!

To learn tips to successfully moderate a panel discussion like a pro, try this user-friendly guide.

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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.