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.
Kristin: Warren, what kind of research do you do to get really good provocative questions?
Warren: You do the normal stuff, and if you’ve been around long enough and worked in enough businesses, etc., you and I understand this. Kristin, strategically things are more the same than they are different in every business although every business and every division, in every branch, in every region, will tell you it’s different here. But strategically it’s pretty much the same kind of stuff, and so you develop, I think, a capacity to be able to take the broad pieces and understand how it fits, a certain business, industry, or government sector, or whatever it may be. But you also say to some of the officers on the board that you’re meeting, or some of the senior execs, you can ask them the questions and say to them, “I’m not going to quote you, but I’d love to know what keeps you up at night?” What’s the most disruptive voice you’ve got going on? Who’s the biggest pain in the ass in your professional association and what’s the hobby horse they’re riding? Who’s got one bone in their mouth that they just won’t let go? You take that and just turn it a bit, and you get some of that. Hang around the cocktail party the night before, and you ask questions like: I’m new to this thing; I’m doing the keynote tomorrow morning, I’d love to know your perspective: What is the thing that this industry still does? What’s the one obvious smart thing that you’re company is out to do that they haven’t done yet? Some of this is the normal nonsense that you get and whatnot. But what you get is a bit of the lingo and a little bit of perspective. Get five salespeople together in any organization, you tell me what’s wrong with this organization, what’s the dumbest thing you keep doing, and they’ll give you a list.
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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!