What are some of the things you do to get better at moderating 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 things do you do to intentionally get better as a panel moderator?
Susan: I think that talking to other moderators and listening to them and talking to the panelists and the audience is a really good way. I was talking to… Even just this last time, I was talking to one of the other moderators at GenCon, Kelly Swails, and she told me that one of the things she’s found works well for certain types of panels is to start by asking for people’s favorite example of the topic at hand, and that it’s much easier than going straight into theory, because it’s asking for something that you love, and it also gives a common touchstone that people can come back to later.
I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s a great idea for certain kinds of panels, the ones that are more crunchy. Like, it’ll give people something softer to kind of hook into. So just talking with her about things she’s done that have worked or things she’s tried, I mean, why not take advantage of the vast knowledge that other moderators have? There’s so many of us out there, we don’t all need to learn on our own.
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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!