Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Glenn Thayer, Master of Ceremonies and conference moderator to share his perspective on how and what he uses help to sort through the audience’s questions during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Video Transcript

Kristin: Glenn, do you have someone helping you sort through the audience questions, or do you handle that yourself?

Glenn: Now if it’s a small enough audience, and I already know that there’s not going to be a ton of questions, or it’s going to be limited, then I can usually manage it but I am not a multitasker in any way shape or form. If I’m on stage moderating a panel, I do not want to be responsible for vetting questions or looking at questions because while I’m looking at a question, that means I’m checking out what somebody wrote and I’m completely disconnected on what’s going on onstage and I’m not okay with that. So my request is always that the client takes a look at the questions and they can choose where they want to go so they still have some input into how the conversation is going to go onstage. And I find that a lot of clients get comfortable with that too because they say, “Well you know, we can send you the questions.” So there’s questions that we know we don’t want to talk about because it’s going to open up a can of worms. We’ll avoid that question right now.

If something goes downhill and I need to go somewhere else, you know these questions are not going to serve the audience; I have other questions I can go to and say, “Okay, well let’s piggy-back” It might be that somebody else has asked the question in one of my questions that I’ve had in advance. I can go to that question because now it is moving the conversation forward. And that’s for a moderator, that’s what you have to do because you have to know the audience and you have to know what’s best for the audience.


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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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