Panel Discussion Tip #283 with Warren Evans: How to Get the Audience Engaged

How can moderators get great questions for an upcoming panel discussion at a meeting, conference, or convention?  Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of the late Warren Evans, professional speaker, futurist and member of the Canadian Speaker Hall of Fame.


Video Transcript

Kristin:  Warren, how do you get the audience engaged in panel discussions?

Warren: Most of these audiences, big chunks of them know each other, and the big advantage I’ve got, of course, is I can tease, and I can yank people’s chains; I can be a little bit irreverent because I’ve got an hour-long relationship with that whole audience. We’ve already talked about stuff together. We’ve laughed together; we’ve done all that kind of stuff. So I can bring some of that persona to the audience.

I will do some fast audience poll stuff. If somebody asks the question and says, “Look, I think we need to be doing, you know, XYZ in this.” And so I will turn around and say, “Okay, so the question of the panel is, we need to be doing XYZ, yes or no; let’s see how much support you’ve got on each side for this to begin with. All of those who figure we ought to be doing it, stick your hand up; all of those who think that’s a silly idea, stick your hand up,” which also tells me how fast which hands go up first, where my other thinking people are who have opinions to express gives the panel a moment or two to think about what their answers are going to be. But also now it’s getting the whole audience engaged.

What I’m trying to do is fuel a debate at the lunch table an hour from now; that’s my purpose. 

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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!


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