Yes, you can poll the audience using these techniques, but when the audience is over 300 people and you only have a short amount of time, your options become more technical, using a polling device or app such as Slido.
In the case of a highly visible and main-stage panel with five panelists and an audience of 400 people, we decided to break it up about two-thirds of the way with the “Agree/Disagree Game.”
The panel moderators said, “Let’s play a game… AGREE/DISAGREE. Each of our panelists has an AGREE/DISAGREE paddle. I’m going to make a statement that may be provocative for the purpose of discussion … and then each of our panelists can agree or disagree.”
Let’s start by testing the paddles to make sure they work.
First statement —
“This panel is, hands down, no holds barred, the very BEST panel with the best looking panelists you’ve ever seen… in the entire universe.”
Que laughter! And the panelists used their paddles to vote.
“Now that we have the hang of this, let’s continue with another question.”
Then ask three or four more questions that you believe will have polarizing answers or will inspire an interesting conversation that the audience will literally lean in to hear. After each question, allow the panelists to explain their answers. If necessary, ask probing follow-up questions to inspire the conversation during your scintillating panel discussion!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF | Master, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator is on a quest to make all panel discussions lively and informative. Check out her free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.