Have you ever seen the Improv game “Pillars?” If you have, that’s great, if not, it may take you a minute more to appreciate this technique of “progressive answers.”
You, as the panel moderator, ask a panelist an interesting question. (I like to do this from one of the questions submitted by an audience member, but any question will do!) A sentence or two into the answer, (or at any time during his/her answer), you yell “pause!” and then point to another panelist, who picks up the answer where the previous panelist left off. (of course, you’ll want to coach your panelists that you are going to do this BEFORE the start of the panel!) Stop the conversation at the logical conclusion – in other words, when the question has been answered!
Repeat with one or two more questions as long as it stays interesting and relevant. No more than three times, as the panelists and the audience just get tired. Time to switch gears again during your panel discussion!