How can a moderator facilitate the conversation among the panelists during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions?  Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Dr. Chip Bell, professional speaker and panel moderator.

Video Transcript

Kristin:  Chip, what is your favorite technique when you are facilitating the conversation among the panelists?

Chip:  Tell a story…Yes, tell a story. And you preface the question with, “Let me tell you a little story.” And your story is short. “So I went into the…..” and you tell the story. And I’d say “What would be your expectation in that situation.” You’ll find it particularly helpful because one of the categories I like to look at is, “How do you handle recovery. How does the organization handle a hiccup” And so often times you need a context for them to answer that question. And what you are looking for is the philosophy behind how they’d handle it. Not the specifics, you know. What is the style or approach or the philosophy that’s behind the solution.

And so you might pose a question with a story and then just ask the panel, “So how would you have liked the bank or insurance company to have handled that situation.” And then they start giving you their view in terms of, “Well the first thing they should do is always apologize first. It should make it easy for me”. You know they go through the characteristics that’s beneficial to the audience about how to handle a certain situation. So that’s one.

Another one you can use is stories to sort of prompt. One of those categories that I usually use are aspirational questions. They can be as simple as “What’s something that no one in this industry is doing that you wish they would do it.” And sometimes that kind of dream question helps the organization go “Gosh we never thought about that.” We need to work on a service or solution or application that enables us to do that. And so often times prefacing it by “I’ve always wondered you know why a trucking company doesn’t have this.” You know that’s always been something. What are some other things you’d love see this organization do that nobody else in the trucking industry has ever done. You know what would you invent for them.

So you come up with sort of your own sort of wish list as sort of an “Oh so he means that aspiration.” So that’s the kind of thing you do.

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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!