Sometimes, you just need to let the audience drive the conversation. It really has to be a perfect storm of conditions:
I am always trolling for great ideas to add more pizzazz to your panel discussion and just stumbled on Erin L. Albert’s blog where she gave 7 Steps to a Unicorian, Utterly Unforgettable Panel Discussion. My favorite is number 5:
What kind of panel moderator are you?
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.
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.
As a panel discussion expert, I am always on the lookout for new ideas, formats, and styles. So I’ve set up some Google Alerts to let me know when there is a blog post or video that includes “panel discussion,” “panel moderator” or “panelist.” And I read and watch them ALL. I know, you’re thinking,
It’s an intriguing thought: Can a panel moderator challenge the panelists to change their own behavior?
Don’t you just hate it when the panel moderator takes forever to launch the panel discussion? Drones on and on, talks about him or herself?
Since I routinely troll the internet for examples of panel discussions, my Google Alert sent me an article this morning: Crowdfunding Experts Spill Their Secrets For a Successful Campaign. The article then explained what the panel was all about.