What does your typical panel discussion format look like 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 does your typical panel format look like?
Susan: My panel format is, I think, pretty standard in that I usually do the beginning, you have the introduction, you know, defining the panel, why people are there, because sometimes people forget, introducing the panelists, I introduce myself and the ground rules. That takes about five minutes. Then you have about 30 minutes to ask questions of the panelists, and you want to make sure that you cover the space, and even if something’s really interesting, don’t just narrow down on, like, one question the whole time.
And then I have about 15 minutes for audience questions, followed by five minutes for the takeaway. And the takeaway is basically, if people remember one thing about the panel, what should they remember? Which is an excuse not only for… It kind of focuses them, again, because some of those panelists get really distracted by the questions you’re asking or by the conversation, that they kind of get away from the heart of what’s most important to them about the topic, and it also gives them a chance to say something if I haven’t touched on something that’s really important to them about the topic, that’s when they get to say it. And I think it gives a great sense of closure to both the panelists and the audience.
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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!