A new panel moderator recently contacted me with all kinds of questions about her upcoming panel:
- What’s best? Should I sit stage right and have all the panelists sit to the left of me in a row? Or, should I sit in the middle ala Bill Maher and arrange chairs in a U-shape? Or a large round table ala The View?
- What about chairs? What’s best? Have panelists sit on tall bar-room stools? Large comfy fabric chairs? A sofa?
- Should I ask each person a different question? Or, have each of them answer the same question?
- Best way to get questions from the audience? A mic in the middle of the room people can walk up to and ask? Or, a ‘runner‘ with a mic finding each person and handing them the mic?
- What other things I should consider?
Notice, she wanted to know “What’s best?” And while I personally have some preferences, there is no ONE way to moderate a panel discussion. It all depends on the topic, the venue, the panelists, and of course, the moderator’s own personal style.
My best advice is to make ALL of these small choices (aka the other things she should consider) on behalf of the audience to deliver the “promise” as stated in the program materials.
BTW – you can find out all the things you should consider in my book, Powerful Panels.
Sample Script for a Virtual Panel Discussion
Demonstration Panel Format to Discuss Best Practices
Example of a Panel Moderator’s Agenda for a Panel Discussion
Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash