Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked Susan Morris, a fantasy author, editor, and absurdly frequent panel moderator at GenCon, what she does to prepare to moderate a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.
Kristin: Susan, what are some of the things you do to prepare for a panel discussion?
Susan: So, I prepare a lot, but it makes me feel comfortable. Basically, I never want to show someone my first draft. The first draft of a panel is no better than the first draft of a book. So to prepare, the first thing I do is research. And it doesn’t matter how much I know about the space, because I need to know what’s going on right now in that space, what questions people have. So it’s not just looking about, like, what’s the depth? It’s about looking about like, what is my audience asking online? Because they do, they ask about those questions online, and you can figure out what the most common questions are.
I also look into the panelists themselves, what have they done, what will be their good stories? I always try and figure out what will make them talk and what they’re interested in talking about, and what they have that’s special to share with the audience. And I do, I look at it. If there isn’t a lot of online activity… Because some of the questions, there really isn’t, or some of the topics.
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Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator, and high stakes meeting facilitator is on a crusade to make all panel discussions informative, interactive, and interesting. Specifically, she wants to help YOU become a better panel moderator. Why? Because 95% of annual meetings have panel discussions – and according to the 2014 Panel Report, it’s a fifty-fifty proposition they are any good at all! Expectations decrease dramatically when your attendees walk in and see the traditional draped head-table with microphones on short stands. There are sooooo many other ways to have a stimulating conversation! So let’s increase the probability of success for your next panel discussion with these resources.
And, you can always go back to the playlist for more Powerful Panel Discussion Tips!