How do you know that you have done a good job moderating a panel discussion at a meeting, conference or convention? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Susan Morris, a fantasy author, editor and absurdly frequent panel moderator at GenCon.
Kristin: Susan, how do you know that you’ve done a good job as a panel moderator?
Susan: So there’s a couple ways. I do have my internal barometer, and the internal barometer is that, if I felt like we covered a breadth, without going too fast over everything, there’s usually a couple things I want to make sure we absolutely get to, or a certain depth I want to make sure we get to. So if we got to that, if the panelists all seem to be happy with their amount of time they got to speak, if the audience seemed engaged, and you can definitely tell, because they’ll lean in and they’ll be taking notes, or if no one walked out, if more people walked in, then that gives you a pretty happy feeling.
But also, if you do a good job, the panelists thank you, and the audience comes up and they thank you, the moderator, not just the panelists. And like, sometimes people will find you later and tell you that. So I think that you get both external and internal validation from doing a panel well. The weird thing is, I think, that I can feel like I’ve done a panel poorly when the audience and the panelists might feel a different way. And I think it’s just because we all have those internal standards of what we want from a panel, and if it doesn’t reach those, you can still be disappointed in your own work, while realizing that it worked for other people.
Looking for More?
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!