How can you engage the audience early on in a panel discussion at meetings, conferences and conventions? Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Boston Globe journalist and panel moderator, Scott Kirsner, who also wrote the highly rated Harvard Business Review article on How to Moderate a Panel Like a Pro.
Kristin: What are some of things that you do to bring the audience on board?
Scott: Yes I mean, you know there are a lot of things you can ask just to members of the audience to stand up particularly like a lot of times I’m going to a conference where I don’t have a great sense of exactly who’s in the audience because I am not a member of the association or whatever. So you can ask three or five people to stand up and just say like, “Tell us your name, your title, where you work and what are you hoping to get out of this panel?” And like almost set the stage for the panelist by using your first five minutes to like say to the audience, “Who are you and what you want to get out of this.”
And then the panel realizes like, “Oh gee, not everyone is a PhD scientist like me. There are a lot of teachers in the room” or whatever. So it helps them calibrate what they’re going to say.
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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!