How can a moderator add excitement to an otherwise boring panel discussion at a meeting, conference or convention? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Dr. Chip Bell, professional speaker and panel moderator.
Kristin: Chip, what do you do to add excitement to a boring panel?
Chip: If we ask your dog about this, and your dog could talk, and your dog can talk but we don’t know dog but we don’t know how to speak dog… but let’s assume we did know how to speak dog, and your dog were here and your dog could answer the question, what would your dog say? And they laugh, but then they’ll often answer it in a kind of surprising, imaginative way. If your children were here, one of your children were here watching you, they’re learning life lessons from what they’re seeing you do and talk about today, what conclusions would they draw? So, often by taking it out of the context of what you’re doing and reframing it makes it a little bit more— they laugh, they have fun with it, I try to bring it out.
There’s another cool way to do it, and that is to involve the audience and the panel in the same way. So, this is one of the fun things I like to do sometimes, when you’ve got one that’s dragging and you feel like “I’ve done everything I can to keep it from dragging.” Sometimes, turning it over the audience, and I tell people sometimes, “We will give you an opportunity to ask your questions,” but one of the cool things you can do is say, “Okay, we’re going to stop for a moment. We’re going to take three minutes, and we’re going to have the panel think about and talk together about key points they’ve not made that they ought to make, or like to make or should make, or somebody out to make, and at the same time, we’re going to ask the audience to get together in small groups and come up with the coolest question they can think of to ask the panel, or the thing nobody thought of to ask you that we’d like to know, or some unique question. So, you get the audience to come up with some crafty unique and unusual question but at the same time you’ve given the panel a chance to think about “Well what’s the message that we need to send?” And that often, if there is short of an obstacle, will unplug it. So, now you really have moved it to a conversation, because now you’re getting the audience to help you ask questions but you’ve got the panel who’s already prepared to make a certain point they hadn’t made.
Looking for More?
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!