Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Mark Sanborn, Leadership Keynote Speaker, panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame to share his techniques on easing the panelists into a great panel discussion at meetings, conferences and conventions.


Kristin: Mark, what are some of the things that you do to help panelists ease into a discussion?

Mark: Well one of the things that you can do is use comments rather than questions to put a panelist at ease. For instance if a panelist got in late the night before I might say, “You know Jill I know you had an interesting travel and didn’t get to the hotel until about two o’clock last night so I’m impressed by just how awake you are given that circumstance.” And that kind of diffuses her feeling like, “Wow I didn’t get in until 2 o’ clock. I probably look terrible.”

I might also tie into something personal about the panelist. I might say, “Here we are in Denver and I know Bob that you are from California but you are a Bronco’s fan how did you come to be a Bronco’s fan being a native Californian?” And that kind of small talk might seem a little bit trivial, it’s certainly not superficial but what it does it just creates comfort and connection points. You know the idea that we feel more rapport with people we have something in common with. So talking about those kinds of things, making those kinds of comments puts both the panelist and the audience at ease.

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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!