Speaking with Sopan Deb for a TimesTalks conversation, Stephen Colbert talked about his struggles with the lack of overall diversity in the writers rooms of comedy programs.
Colbert said that he had been “frustrated” by a seeming inability to find diverse talents for the Late Show, until he realized that “We had to take an extraordinary step to get an extraordinary room. And now it’s half, you know, white guys and half either women or writers of color.”
“It wasn’t until we said, no please, don’t send us anyone but women. Because we would say, you know it’s very important, we want writers of color, we want women, and you would get 150 packets and there would be eight women. And we’re like, ‘God, that’s so frustrating.’ Until I said no, only women, and then I got 87 women.”
Same thing holds true for panel discussions! Don’t want a “manel” full of white, middle-aged guys? Just say no. Don’t settle for the usual suspects. Go search for the visual diversity that reflects the diversity in your audience. Trust me; they are out there – but probably not in your usual circles!
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.