You just agreed to be a panelist at your organization’s annual meeting and you are wondering, “What was I thinking?”

Perhaps you said yes because this will be good visibility for you and your company.  Or you’re a well-respected leader and/or supporter of the organization.  Or you are a sponsor and a seat on a panel is part of the sponsorship package.

Whatever the reason, it is your responsibility to do your homework and deliver some amazing value and insights for the audience.  You can’t just show up and expect miracles to happen.  You have to put a little bit of thought and rumination into it before you show up.  (I crassly call this “show up and throw up!” You don’t want to do that either).

Have a chat with the meeting chair, planner and/or panel moderator to discuss the following items so that you can be brilliant on the panel:

Event Details:

  • Event Title
  • Event Theme
  • Date of the Event
  • Location
  • “Sponsor” or Business
  • Organization’s Past Experience with Panels?
  • Attire

Panel Details:

  • Date of Panel
  • Start Time
  • End Time
  • Location/Room
  • Time to be on Location
  • Panel Topic
  • Panel Title
  • Panel Objective(s)

Who Is In the Audience:

  • Expected Level of Expertise?
  • Key Interests?
  • Needs and Concerns?
  • Questions They are Hoping to Find Answers To?
  • Panel Impact on Their Work/Lives?

Panel Format:

  • Formal or Informal?
  • Describe the Vision
  • Success Criteria
  • Names of Other Panelists
  • Evaluation Forms?

Other Associated Activities for the Panelists:

  • Book Signing
  • Professional Videotaping of the Session
  • Extra Press-Only Session
  • VIP/Meet the Panelists’ Reception/Dinner
  • Ability to Share a Successful Case Study
  • Any Promotional Prohibitions

Room Logistics:

Audio-Visual:

  • Microphones
  • Multimedia Projection
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • A/V Release Form for Panelists to Sign?

Event/Panel Promotion

  • Brainstorm how you can help get the word out through social media and your network
  • Get Copy of Marketing Materials
  • Event Website URL
  • Event Social Media Pages/Groups
  • Twitter Hashtag

Once you have all this information, now is the time to go to work!  Take a few minutes to think through:

  • Key Message
  • Key Points with Example/Story
  • Memorable Phrase
  • Supporting Visuals/Props?

As you get closer to the actual date, the panel moderator will probably reach out to you either by phone or email to confirm some of the above details.  This is a good time to check in with the moderator on the style and flow, check out a few of the questions he or she might ask and to fine-tune as needed.

As a panelist, when you prepare well, you’ll be brilliant during the panel discussion!

Print this PanelistWorksheet and be sure to share it with your colleagues so that they can benefit from this valuable resource.

Related Articles:

Panel Moderator Checklist for Meeting with Panelists Prior to Panel Discussions

How to Prepare Your Panelists to be Brilliant

10 Most Common Mistakes Panelists Make During a Panel Discussion

Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.

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