Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Brian Walter, Founder of Extreme Meetings and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame to share his ideas on how panel discussions can be more interesting and still deliver great content at meetings, conferences, and conventions.
Kristin: So Brian, how can we make our panel discussions interesting for the audience and still deliver great content?
Brian: Well, the first thing is you have to know what you’re trying to avoid when it comes to panels, because when you say, “We’re going to have a panel,” very few people inherently go, “Yay! There’s going to be a panel.” Now, the interesting thing about panels is often times if not regularly, they’re only “eh,” but every once in a while there’s a fantastic panel and that is the hope that people have. When they see really impressive or cool people on a panel there’s that whole “Remember that one panel?” because panels can work really well. So, you have to know what you’re trying to avoid. What you’re trying to avoid is sameness, repetition, rambling.
In fact, here is the moment you know when you have a boring panel. When you ask one question and each of the panelists start to chime in and say something like, “I’d like to echo what Bob said.” As soon as the second person does that, then the rest of them feel that they all need to chime in too, not because they have something to say but because they think they’re supposed to. So, right from the start you set up this, “I’m going to ask a question. They’re all going to chime in equally even though they don’t necessarily have something scintillating to say.” That is panel death.
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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!