The main way to learn how to moderate a panel is to moderate a panel discussion. Not just one, but many. Note what works and what doesn’t work. Keep doing what works well and change the things that don’t work as well.
I realize how basic this sounds, but I am continually surprised at how seldom this happens.
So here’s what typically happens. You moderate the panel and then dash off to the next assignment. While you are driving, you think about what worked well and what you would do next time. And you think you will remember your observations. But you don’t moderate another panel for another few weeks (or months), and when it rolls around, you have forgotten all the things you wanted to do differently the next time.
If you really want to improve your panel moderation skills,
Go the extra mile and formally critique yourself:
- Reflect. As soon as possible after the panel, take a moment to reflect on what went well and what did not go so well. Review your working agenda and note where you followed the agenda and where you deviated.
- Analyze. Ask yourself these two questions: “Why did that technique work?” “Why didn’t that activity work as well as I thought it would?” Your answers could be a host of causes ranging from technique selection and your comfort level to the actual content and the audience’s personality.
- Upgrade. How would you improve the panel the next time? Write down specifics about how you would change it.
- One Thing. Close to the bottom of the working agenda, draw a red line across the page. Write down the one thing you learned through this critique process. It could be something you want to reinforce or change for the next time.
- Rate Yourself. Give yourself a realistic grade on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest) for the overall panel as well as each category technique. Any grade below a 5 is an opportunity for improvement.
- File. Place your annotated working agenda in a “continuous improvement” binder or digital file folder. Periodically, you can flip through the binder to see themes, patterns, and trends as well as specific improvements for your next panel.
How to Moderate a Virtual Panel Discussion
How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion
Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions
For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. To have Kristin moderate your next panel, visit the Powerful Panels official website.
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