Last week, I moderated a panel discussion on “risk assessment” – a potentially boring topic – but it wasn’t boring at all! Why? Because I involved the audience from the get-go and focused the conversation on what they knew and what they needed to know.
I’m a big fan of audience interaction during a panel discussion, so you would think I would be a big proponent of having a Q&A session all the time.
Note: This is part three of a three part series on Theater-in-the-Round. Today, the focus is on having a panel-in-the-round. Enjoy! While theater-in-the-round is a unique audience-centered seating arrangement, it is all the more challenging in which to have a robust panel discussion.
“Rapid fire panel discussion sounds much more sexy than [boring] panel discussion, doesn’t it? I admit, I was intrigued with the title when I stumbled upon the description of TSX Ignite’s “Information-Dense, Rapid-Fire Panel Discussions.“
I’m always on the lookout for a smart, brisk panel discussion format, so I was delighted to witness Michael Wilkinson, Managing Director of Leadership Strategies moderate a 90-minute panel on Accelerated Growth Strategies for the ISA-Association of Learning Providers.
You walk into the room and see a traditional seating set-up for your panel discussion: White draped table at the front on a podium, theater-style with two columns of chairs, with a path down the middle. The overhead screen is at the front in the middle of the room. Looks pretty good, right?
Questions from the audience can enrich a panel discussion or derail it, so decide ahead of time when and how you will manage questions. You can:
An important aspect of every panel discussion is creating interaction with the audience – before, during and after the panel discussion.
At the 2014 National Speakers Association (NSA) Convention, Mark Sanborn moderated the Executive Exchange Panel with Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor in Chief, Forbes Media, Kat Cole, CEO of Cinnabon, Inc. and GJ Hart, Executive Chairman, CEO and President, California Pizza Kitchen.
The easiest way to engage the audience early during a panel presentation is to take a poll – especially if you don’t know the cast of characters in the room.