Who should introduce the panelists at the beginning of a panel discussion at meetings, conferences and conventions? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Susan Morris, a fantasy author, editor and absurdly frequent panel moderator at GenCon.
Kristin: Susan, do you introduce the panelists or allow them to introduce themselves?
Susan: So it depends on the kind of panel. If I have, for instance, if it’s more of a seminar or a Q&A, then I’ll usually ask the person what they prefer. Because sometimes it’s easier for me to introduce them so that I can say things they can’t say about themselves, like I can make them sound better than they would make themselves sound. On the other hand, especially in the writing space, a lot of times authors want the opportunity to talk about something they’re working on, something that’s not announced yet that they get to announce, and a lot of authors have many hats.
Like, a lot of us are editors as well, or agents, or do other things, or work in multiple genres, like work in sci-fi and fantasy and horror, or kid lit and adult. So it gives them a chance to kind of pick the hat that they want to wear if you let them introduce themselves. So I usually go with having them introduce themselves. I do remind everyone that it’s gonna be brief. And I haven’t had a problem with anyone going on too long after that, and it does give them a chance to kind of focus on what they want.
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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.
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