Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Warren Evans, professional speaker, futurist, and member of the Canadian Speaker Hall of Fame to share his favorite way to do Questions and Answers (Q&A) during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.
Kristin: Warren, what is your favorite way of doing Q&A with the audience?
Warren: I think step one comment on Q&A is you never, ever leave it to the end. You’ve got to have a wrap-up to this thing whether you review some of the topics that got talked about or some of the disagreements or new thoughts that came out or whatever it may be or you give each of the panel their 60-second wrap-ups or whatever, the very worst thing than anything is some weak or bizarre question or something just fizzles and then you do the classic bang-up wrap-up job. “Okay, we’re out of time now; thanks for coming.”
My key I think to doing the Q&A is to give the audience some warning. The people who are thinking and reacting to the panel need a moment or two to formulate questions. The person who came with their hobby horse that they ride every year at this event, doesn’t need any time to talk. So you want to forewarn them and say, “I’ve got one more thing I want to ask our panel up here, because I was reading something in a legal journal the other day about the new regulation regimes coming in from the government, we’re going to talk about how that’s going to affect you. And then we’re going to go and see what you folks have got to say out in the audience.” You give them that five minutes of warning thing.
The other way to get the reaction out of the audience is if you’re in a situation where you can do some put heads together so that we’re not looking for a person that asks a question, we’re going to take three minutes. Stick your heads together with a few other people. If they’re at the tables, that’s easy, but you can do this in a theater. What’s the one thing that somebody in this audience ought to be asking this panel? You give it to them and you can make a bit of getting ready, getting the mic and doing all this kind of stuff so you do a little bit of make busy, and then off you roll. And if you’ve got three or four people talking to each other, many more of those little groupings will come up with something, then individuals will, and it gives them a place to hide because it’s not their opinion; it’s the group’s opinion.
Looking for More?
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!