How to (literally) stage a panel discussion during 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.
Kristin: Brian, how do you like to stage the panel? Do you like to put them behind a table?
Brian: Generally, when it comes to panels I think of tables as evil. Unless they’re getting a meal served to them or it’s like a wedding—tables, where they’re behind the tables, I think is old school and it’s about authority and power. And I think younger audiences especially, it’s like, that’s just not necessary. “We want candor, and we want to see their body language.” It’s like if—just think of how this looks if we ask a really surprising and challenging question and we see the panelists go, “Oh, whoa! That… erm… uff!” Everyone’s like, “this is going to be good.” Because we see their body react with it, they did not know that question was coming. That’s a real question. On the other hand, if they’re behind the table it’s like, “Hmm, that’s an interesting question.” We only get to see this little part of them and we want to see their whole body and go, “Oh, my gosh, wow!” you get to see their body language. That’s part of the connection there.
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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!