Poll the Panelists to Start a Panel Discussion
February 27, 2018
Close a Panel Discussion with a Rant
March 20, 2018

American Idol is back, and what a great example of the “hot seat format” for a panel discussion!  On “American Idol,” the expert judges are the panelists and the contestants are selected audience members receiving real-time feedback.  You can see this format in other TV shows such as “Shark Tank” where the panelists are venture capitalists and the audience members are entrepreneurs seeking funds.

The key here is to have subject matter experts as panelists and audience members who desperately want real-time, live feedback on their idea, question, issue, product, or thingamajig.

The voyeuristic joy to this format is that it is completely unplugged.  Unscripted.  Unrehearsed.  Which can drive some meeting organizers crazy, but audiences love the format and learn vicariously through the process.

BTW, it is best to pre-select those who will sit on the hot seat for two reasons:

1.  You want to make sure the thingamajig is relevant and universal to most if not all of the audience.

2.  Make sure the person on the hot seat really wants feedback.  Sometimes, it’s hard to hear your baby is ugly!

So here’s how I have structured a

60-minute hot seat session:

0:00 Welcome, Format Overview, Agenda, and Ground Rules (2 mins)

0:02 Brief Introduction of All the Panelists (3)

0:05 Contestant #1: (15)

  • Moderator introduces the contestant and the issue he/she wants resolved/feedback (.5)
  • Contestant provides background/context, relevant information (2.5)
  • Panelists/audience provide feedback (10)
  • Moderator summarizes/checks in with contestant (2)

0:15 Contestant #2 (15)

  • Moderator introduces the contestant and the issue he/she wants resolved/feedback (.5)
  • Contestant provides background/context, relevant information (2.5)
  • Panelists/audience provide feedback (10)
  • Moderator summarizes/checks in with contestant (2)

0:25 Contestant #3 (15)

  • Moderator introduces the contestant and the issue he/she wants resolved/feedback (.5)
  • Contestant provides background/context, relevant information (2.5)
  • Panelists/audience provide feedback (10)
  • Moderator summarizes/checks in with contestant (2)

0:50 Summary (8)

0:58 Thank you/administrative directions (where to go next, instructions for the book signing) (2)

1:00 Adjourn


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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Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF | Master, high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator 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. www.PowerfulPanels.com

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