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Thanksgiving is this week – hooray!  It’s my absolute favorite holiday of the year. It is a special time to reflect on all the blessings we have.  Especially this year, I am so grateful for our health, happiness, family, and friends.

So it is no wonder that I started thinking about how we show our appreciation to our panelists for sharing their brilliance during a panel discussion.  Considering that most panelists are doing this as a courtesy to you or your organization, one or two of these ideas will make them feel better about the whole experience:

Ways to Thank a Panelist in a Way They Will Appreciate

The Gift of Attention.  Especially if your panelists are traveling from another city, treat them as “Very Important People” – the VIPs that they are:

  • Meet Them.  Have someone to pick them up/drop them off at the airport.
  • Dine.  Take them to a special restaurant, spending time to get to know them and their interests.
  • Tour.  Arrange for a tour of the town or desirable attraction.
  • Compliment.  Say something nice about their participation on the panel.
  • Seek Them Out. After the panel, make it a point to personally and genuinely thank each panelist for a job well done!

Physical Gifts.  

  • Welcome Note.  When the panelist arrives, there is a warm note of welcome waiting for them at the registration table, hotel check-in, or in their room.
  • Basket. If staying at a hotel, have a small collection of useful goodies or munchies.  They might be tired and appreciate a light snack or beverage.
  • Thank You Note.  Send a personal email or handwritten note including a specific contribution they made to the panel.
  • Photo.  Send a photo of the panelist sharing their brilliance with the audience.
  • Framed Photo.  Take it to the next step and frame that photo!
  • Video. If you captured the panel discussion on video, send them the file or a link to download the file.
  • Swag.  The conference may have some great promotional items that they are giving to the attendees.  Don’t forget your panelists!
  • Memento.  Does your organization’s brand have something that you can leverage into a gift?  General Mills gave me a box of Wheaties with my picture on it.  Love that!
  • Creative Gift. Think of a gift that captures the essence of the location or the theme of the conference.  For example, I had personalized sand candles made for a conference held in a beach resort in Marco Island, Florida.  I still have mine!
  • Personalized Gift.  Tap into the interests and hobbies of the panelists.  One of my clients knows I love a good dirty martini, so she gave me a set of hand-crafted martini glasses. (I still have those too!).
  • Director Chair.  My absolute favorite is to ship the chair we bought for each panelist, complete with their name embossed on the back panel!

Donations. 

  • Charity.  Give a donation in their name to their favorite charity.
  • Foundation.  Perhaps the organization has a foundation.  Give a donation on their behalf.
  • Interests.  Tap into their interests and hobbies. I had a panelist who loves dogs, so we made a donation to the local animal shelter.

I’m sure there are other ideas – and I’d love to hear what you do to thank your panelists for participating in a panel discussion!

For more information about how to lead your team in the virtual environment, check out these resources.

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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF | Master, high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator is on a quest to make all panel discussions lively and informative. Check out her free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member. www.PowerfulPanels.com

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