What drives a panel moderator crazy during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Susan Morris, a fantasy author, editor and absurdly frequent panel moderator at GenCon.
Kristin: Susan, what drives you crazy about panels?
Susan: So, a lot of things when you’re in the audience, right? But the thing that drives me most crazy is there’s this theory that is going around in the community that people don’t come to panels to hear about the topic, but that they come to panels to see the people on the panel be entertaining. And I think it comes from a good place and that I think that they know that… It’s that idea that if you meet someone, it’s better to be seen as nice and funny than to try and prove that you’re smart to them, because that’s never gonna go over well.
You shouldn’t try and prove anything, right? You should want to leave them happy, and it’s true. A panel, you want to leave people happy, but the audience comes there for a reason.
And they came there to hear about that topic, so I feel like it does a huge disservice to the audience when the panelists are more focused on trying to be entertaining and put on a show than they are about actually giving usable information. Likewise, when they go the opposite direction or are critical without giving helpful information, like, you know, I think it’s important to think about what the audience wants when you’re a panelist. And when panelists don’t, it drives me crazy.
Absolutely. Don’t not be funny. Definitely be entertaining, just also have content.
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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!