Panelists: Use this Trick to Answer a Panel Discussion Question

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Panelists, what do you do when you are the LAST person to answer the same question all the other panelists answered already?

But here you are, last in the line and you pause.  You see the dominoes falling as each panelist shares his or her brilliance.  In your heart of hearts, you simply KNOW that all your great ideas will already be mentioned by the time the hot potato gets to you. How dare they!
Gulp.  You scratch your head.  Your palms get sweaty.  What in the world are you going to say?
Kay Thrace (not her real name!) found herself in this exact same position during a recent alumni panel for lawyers. She answered with a crazy, funny answer…that ultimately tied to her real point that no one else was making.

Here’s how it went down:

“I had the honor of sitting on an alumni panel recently where the moderator asked each of us what special skill-sets we had developed over our years of our practice. Since I had to go last and all the other good answers had been taken, I replied that I was uniquely qualified to survive a zombie apocalypse. Everybody tittered politely and eventually I conceded and said, ‘You need to be likable.’ Again everybody dutifully laughed, but I was being deadly serious. About that and surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Why be likable? Because it’s in your best interest and it’s amazing how many attorneys I meet who don’t bother to master this simple skill that should have been learned back in grade school.”

When the audience needs a break from the monotony of the answers, throw in a curve ball.  Give a bizarre answer.  It will buy you a bit of time before you interject with your best answer – or the moderator will move on, thankful that all the panelists had airtime to answer the question!

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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.

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