Recently, I was asked to co-moderate a panel discussion with a dear friend and colleague. “Wouldn’t it be fun?” she said. Yes, it can be – and will be – because both of us recognize the benefits AND are willing to do the work:
As a panel moderator, there is a distinct art to asking follow-up questions during a panel discussion – those questions you ask to probe further into a specific aspect of the conversation. The key is to listen intently to what each panelist is saying, and where appropriate, deciding how to dig deeper into the topic:
The first few minutes of your panel discussion are absolutely critical. Although people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, they do. The audience (and panelists) need to know that they are in good hands.
It’s show time! It’s time to take all that planning for an amazing panel discussion and put it into action.
If you have prepared the panelists appropriately and kicked the panel discussion off well, the conversation will start to flow on its own and the panelists won’t be coming back to you for ping-pongs or hot potatoes. However, you may need to interject here and there to keep the conversation moving at a brisk pace.
Ugh. Sometimes, someone from the audience asks a lame question in a panel discussion. As the panel moderator OR a panelist, I believe you have two options:
As the moderator, you are the audience’s chief advocate. If someone’s boring you, then chances are they are boring the audience as well. If you think they are going on too long and not making their point, you need to intervene.
When doing your research in preparation for your panel discussion, find “the dead space” in the topic.
I’ve talked about the importance of picking “DEEP” panelists – Diverse, Experienced, Eloquent, and Prepared. But what happens if those panelists don’t get along?
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.