What is your favorite part of panel discussions at meetings, conferences and conventions? Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Boston Globe journalist and panel moderator, Scott Kirsner, who also wrote the highly rated Harvard Business Review article on How to Moderate a Panel Like a Pro.
Kristin: So what’s your favorite part of panel discussions?
Scott: You know I think it is like the parts that where you can get the audience interacting and you don’t know what’s going to happen so like have whatever it is. I’ve done film makers coming up to talk about the current project and something that they need or the financing questions or the casting questions. I mean I’ve done things where entrepreneurs come up and sort of give their elevator pitch and get feedback. But I think more and more it’s like that interaction between the audience and the panelist that can be really fun and unexpected. And you know like you get an entrepreneur who just does a great job with their presentation or whatever. Some ten year old film maker who’s like “I’m doing a stop motion Lego move and I’m trying to raise $500 for it.” I just want your advice. And you know you just get fun unexpected stuff.
I remember moderating a panel in LA and for the first time and no one had told me this in advance but like one of my panelist got up mid-way through the panel or he started answering something and he was like, “You know I need to leave to go pick my son up from Tee ball practice. So this going to be my last chance to answer a question” and he liked he answered his question and like took off his microphone and left in the middle of the panel. And I was like “Hmm” I didn’t know what to say but like you know you have those experience and you know eventually I think you learn to you know you learn how to make a funny quip or “Is it okay if we all come to the Tee ball practice with you? Because like hey you know it might be more fun that this convergence that we are at? Who knows?”
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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!