It’s almost showtime! 45-60 minutes before the panel discussion is to start, the panel moderator and the panelists should meet each other face to face for about 15 minutes. If a panelist cannot attend, you should make other arrangements to get together onsite prior to the panel. The point of this meet-up is to make sure they are all present and accounted for, answer any final questions they have, ensure they are relaxed and prepared to have some fun! At this quick meeting the panel moderator should:
- Review the format and agenda. Be firm with the panelists about the amount of time allocated to their initial comments and other ground rules.
- It’s a nice touch to hand out the agenda on one side and on the other side, have the seating plan and top five ground rules.
- Review the seating order and make sure it is consistent with your prepared slide.
- Review your introduction with each panelist for accuracy and relevance. Make sure you know how to pronounce their personal and company names correctly.
- Encourage the panelists to treat this like a conversation.
- Tell them how and when you will intervene and how they should signal to you and to each other when they want to answer a question or add to the discussion.
- Remind the panelists to turn off their cell phones.
- Encourage the panelists to mingle with the crowd before the panel starts…and to have fun!
Resist the urge to discuss what you are going to talk about during the actual session. You want to keep the conversation fresh and lively so the panel discussion doesn’t feel like warm leftovers!
To learn more steps to successfully moderate a panel discussion like a pro, try this user-friendly guide.
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.
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