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.

And, you can always go back to the playlist for more Powerful Panel Discussion Tips!