Who introduces the panelists during panel discussions at meetings, conferences, and conventions?  Kristin Arnold asked this question of Boston Globe journalist and professional panel moderator, Scott Kirsner, who also wrote the highly rated Harvard Business Review article on How to Moderate a Panel Like a Pro.

Kristin: Do you prefer to introduce the panelist or do you prefer the panelist introduce themselves?

Scott: I would say like never let the panelist introduce themselves. Really I mean it is just never interesting, they take too long. Most conferences people have their bios in the program book and that’s what they are doing if they feel like, “Wow this person is really interesting I would like to go up and talk to him afterwards.” They are like reading that person’s bio or if they are slightly bored and you know their cell phone is low on batteries they might be reading the bios in the program book.

So I say never let them introduce themselves like do really short introductions like you know; name, title, maybe a line about why they are here or kind of like what they are best known for like a recent book that they have written. But like literally 30 seconds-or-less intros that the moderator does and then dive into the interesting stuff because otherwise when you let people introduce themselves with five panelists like there goes the first fifteen minutes of your session.

You know it’s not even the first ten minutes it’s like there goes the first fifteen minutes of your hour.

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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!