Try the Improv Technique to Spice Up a Panel Discussion

Not Your Traditional Audience Q&A
April 26, 2018
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May 9, 2018

In Tina Fey’s bestselling book, Bossypants, Fey shares, “the first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created.”

Always say “YES, AND…” meaning, always agree, and add something to the discussion. Here’s an example, in an improvised scene with a partner, never say no. If you’re in a boat rowing down the river, you don’t say, “No, we’re folding laundry.” You say, “Yes, and we could really use a paddle instead of my arm.” It adds to the scene, humor can develop, and trust is established between scene partners.

Try this improv technique to “spice up” the conversation in your panel discussion:

As a panel moderator, you take one of your carefully crafted questions and tell the panelists that they must add to what has been said, using the improv technique of saying, “Yes and…”
Start with the person the farthest away from you and then go down the line…until it gets to YOU and then you say something witty or open it up to a conversation about what was said!

For example, you might ask, “What are some of the challenges you see ahead [about the topic]? We’ll start with Panelist A (who is sitting the farthest away from you) and THEN each of you must ‘improv it’ by saying, “Yes and…”

It’s a quick way of getting the ideas out on the table during your panel discussion!

Related Articles:

Panel Discussion Technique: Question Behind the Question

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion Tip #143 with Terry Brock: Visual Do’s & Don’ts for Virtual Panels

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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