Recently, I was asked to co-moderate a panel discussion with a dear friend and colleague.  “Wouldn’t it be fun?” she said.  Yes, it can be – and will be – because both of us recognize the benefits AND are willing to do the work:

From my perspective,

The benefits of teaming up with another facilitator are:

  • Team Synergy. Two heads are always better than one, particularly if you each have different, complementary skills.
  • Change of Pace. Especially during long panel discussions and/or panels with a plethora of panelists, the audience will appreciate seeing a new face and fresh perspective.
  • Another Set of Eyes.  The facilitator who is not “front and center” can more keenly observe panelist behaviors and audience responses to what’s going on.  Just because it’s “not your turn” does not mean you can “take a break” and check your email!
  • Energy.  When team members see that you’re having fun with each other, they will too!

However, working as part of a panel moderation team takes more planning and coordination than when working alone.  In the planning phase, make sure the two of you have a frank conversation before you meet with the meeting organizer and go over the planning worksheet:

  • Share your individual expectations, panel preferences, and facilitation styles.
  • Clarify your roles, objectives, agenda, timeframes and how each of you envision the day will proceed.
  • Discuss how you will support and intervene with each other.

Once you have met with the meeting planner, you’ll want to roll your sleeves up and:

  • Amalgamate your expectations, agenda, etc. with the meeting organizer‘s expectations.
  • Design an agenda and panel format that will meet the desired objectives – and be energizing for you and for the audience.
  • Prepare the panelists to be brilliant – even before they step foot on the stage.
  • Clarify your roles in a more tactical sense: who is going to do what at what time during the panel discussion.
  • Roleplay any transitions, potential conflicts or problems that might arise.

Now that you have done all the work, chances are the panel discussion is going to go smoothly.  Now, just go out there and have some fun together!

Related Articles:

Prepare to be a Brilliant Panelist with these Steps

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

“Turn the Tables” in a Debate-Style Panel Discussion Format

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.

Photo credit Ian Cleary