Where a panel moderator can get creative ideas to make a panel discussion more entertaining at meetings, conferences, and conventions.  Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Brian Walter, Founder of Extreme Meetings and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame.  He’s a freakin’ brilliant meetings maestro who amps up the energy, engages audiences as a way of life.


Video Transcript

Kristin:  Brian, where do you get these creative ideas for making a panel discussion more entertaining?

Brian:  If you want to make your panels more exciting and interesting, watch a television show, read a magazine, get together with someone else. Because you need that synergy and multiple people and the accountability of actually doing it, force yourself to come up with an answer and you always will.

The easiest way to do that—and a lot of times people say you know, I’m not that creative; I can’t come up with stuff like that. BS! Yes you are. We do this one thing with like team-building type of things where we’ll do kind of an improv clinic where we’ll actually be teaching them improv. We do this exercise called “This is not a rope.” You take this rope, this string and the exercise is this is not a rope; this is a watch. This is not a rope, this is glasses. Okay does everybody get it? You’re in a small group of like four or five people. You’re going to each do that, and you’re going to go around your small group. And you are each going to do that four times and you see everyone go (makes noise). And then you say, Go.” And then for the next fifteen minutes you hear laughter and things like that. And then we have each group demonstrate their best one and when they’re laughing. And then I’m ending by saying “Raise your hand if you are unable to do four.” No one raises their hand. Now raise your hand if you said inside your head when I said you will each do this four times, you said “I can’t do that.” And about a third of the people raise their hands. When you don’t give yourself permission to wuss out, you can be more creative.

Creativity is problem-solving; that’s it. So when we get together and we say to them “here’s the panel that’s going to be boring. Let’s watch Letterman tonight. Everyone watch Letterman. Tomorrow morning say “is there anything we saw on that show that we could adapt to this?” There will always be an answer.


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Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator, and high stakes meeting facilitator is on a crusade to make all panel discussions informative, interactive, and interesting.   Specifically, she wants to help YOU become a better panel moderator.  Why?  Because 95% of annual meetings have panel discussions – and according to the 2014 Panel Report, it’s a fifty-fifty proposition they are any good at all!  Expectations decrease dramatically when your attendees walk in and see the traditional draped head-table with microphones on short stands.  There are sooooo many other ways to have a stimulating conversation!  So let’s increase the probability of success for your next panel discussion with these resources.

And, you can always go back to the playlist for more Powerful Panel Discussion Tips!