How to make a boring panel discussion question more interesting at meetings, conferences, and conventions. Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Brian Walter, Founder of Extreme Meetings and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame. He’s a freakin’ brilliant meetings maestro who amps up the energy, engages audiences as a way of life.
Kristin: Brian, what techniques do you use to energize boring questions from the audience?
Brian: Sure, what I’m going to do to juice them up which is also a technique that you can prepare your panelists for, which is what I call the “question behind the question.” So, let’s say you get up here and you’re reading from a card. Here’s a card… in fact the number of cards basically ask the same question which was blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What’s interesting here is that our audience members are being kind. I think we all know what they’re really asking is, the question behind the question, and then you rephrase it in a much edgier way. Because you have to, as the facilitator, you have to be in touch with what the audience is really thinking. We live mostly in a polite society in meetings, where we don’t wish to embarrass people on a panel and say “Your viewpoint is stupid.” I mean, that rarely happens. They’re more likely to err on the side of not actually asking the hard question even though they want it. So, you as the facilitator, saying “Here is the question, but I think we all know the question behind the question, so let’s rephrase this for what’s really being asked which is da, da, da.” And then the audience members are going to be going, “Yes. Yes that is what we really want to know,” and their respect for the panelist who then answers the edgier, harder question goes up. Their respect for you as the facilitator goes up and the experience that the audience gets from there actually being insightful answers, they have a more profound experience.
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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!