Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Boston Globe Columnist and Professional Panel Moderator, Scott Kirsner, about his preferred format for a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.
Kristin: What style of panel format do you prefer?
Scott: Yeah, I mean my cat and I both feel like we prefer the like worst format is really that what we were describing as a traditional format of like you know. Don’t put the moderator on a lectern it’s just so horrible. I wrote a whole separate article a few years ago about just like all the stage setting issues, I can send you a link to it if you want. But just like all the room design and stage setting issues that can screw up panels and like just trying to remember what it is. It’s like, have the moderator sit with the panelist, don’t put them at the lectern. Don’t have a table in front of the panelist that hides two-thirds of their body.
You know and then probably seven-eighths of their body is hidden by the time that you have like pictures of what and name cards and stuff. Don’t let the audience sit too far. If the first row of the audience is like thirty yards from where the panelist sitting is just like how do you connect with them. I just think you know chairs with the moderator in the middle, any kind of chairs but barstools are good because it kind of puts people on edge and they don’t feel too comfortable.
Yeah, probably swiveling barstools is a good idea. With the moderator in the middle, like I do think the moderator’s role is like to be an orchestra conductor and that you sometimes have to tap people on the shoulder or touch them on the leg and say like you know “Kristin that’s really interesting I want to get back to that later but right now I want to give James a chance to jump.” You know like sometimes you have to sort of have that you know a little bit of body language and like no one sees the body language if you are all sitting behind the table or if the moderator is up at a lectern.
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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!