How to overcome deathly and boring Q&A during panel discussions 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, how else do you like to add variety to your panel discussions?
Brian: Another great one—again, you tell the panel members you’re going to do it—but they tend to be cocky and not prepared because they think that you just do it which is that you’re going to do what I call the one-sentence response, and you ask a question to the panelists (and you told them you’re going to do this). And you say, “Okay, we want you to give your commentary on this particular topic. We’re going to ask all of you to do that, but you can only answer in one sentence. As soon as you pause too long or you reach the end of one sentence, I will stop you. It doesn’t matter if you’re in midsentence. So be careful.”
Another technique, same type of approach where you say, okay, so, you put an edgier topic out there, and then you say, “Okay, this is the rant section. All right. So each of you are going to get 20 seconds to rant and say whatever you would like about this particular topic.” Clue the panelists in ahead of time. You start with, “What’s your pet peeve? What do you want to rant about?” “I’ll tell you blah, blah, blah, blah.” You have a big 20-second countdown clock and then (makes noise). People will laugh and applaud every single time. Again, it’s structured; it’s short. It’s interesting and we’re able to get a different type of response than we normally would with a panel.
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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!