What is your biggest fear when moderating a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of the late Warren Evans, professional speaker, futurist and member of the Canadian Speaker Hall of Fame.
Kristin: Warren, what is your biggest fear when it comes to moderating a panel?
Warren: I think the biggest fear I’ve got or tricky situations to handle is a panel full of people who are all there to try and sell something. We’ve done the ‘let’s not hire a speaker for the second session,’ we can get some free industry people. Who do we get? VP Marketing, Director of their Sales Channel, and they’re all there to pitch stuff to the audience. I will work real hard and pretty aggressively in the beginning to take the Mickey out of that. I have actually literally turned to people at some point and said to them, “if I can get everybody in this audience to promise to read one of your brochures from cover to cover before the day is done, is that going to help us focus on the actual industry issue here in a broader sense?” And I will turn it back. I’ll say “folks, help me out here.” How many of you promise you are going to read Pat’s brochure?” I’ll do that and turn around to Pat. You know what? Pat will dial back the sales pitch for the next 45 minutes. We all had a laugh. It was all done in a fine kibbutz kind of way. That is one. The other is a panel that actually doesn’t know anything. People that we dragged out of the coffee break, I mean, Lord knows where these people come from, but I know more about what’s going on. I know more about the strategic issues. Those are the ones that are tough and you do the best you can and the bizarre part of it, of course, always is that your meeting organizer and your audience both know what you’re dealing with.
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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!