Here’s another technique to shift gears and change the pace in your panel discussion: Take a rapid-fire poll of the panelists!
There are a few ways you can do this:
Rate from one to ten. Ask each of the panelists, on a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest rate, how they would rate ________ (pick an issue!). They MUST pick a number – and don’t let them go into explaining why! See, quick and easy! After all panelists have weighed in, you can make an observational comment (“Wow! We have a wide range here!”), decide to probe deeper into one panelist’s response, or continue with your next poll.
Yes. No. Maybe. Create an interesting closed question such as “Do you think this [future trend] is going to happen in the next five years? Yes, no, or maybe?”
Fiver! In this poll, ask a question to the panelists and they must answer in five words only. Encourage your panelists to use their fingers because it gets quite stressful, edgy, and fun! It’s also revelatory. They must be able to have brilliance in five words, in the moment, counting on your fingers while a bazillion people are staring at them! BTW, there’s no face loss to struggle a little bit because everyone has placed themselves vicariously in the panelists’ position. They are thinking ‘What would I do?’
Is It Better? In this poll, the way you ask the question compels the panelists to answer quickly. Think of two things that you know the organization does not have complete agreement on. You WANT to know which side of the fence the panelists are on!
The One Breath Rule. Ask the panelists a question and they can answer as long as they want in one breath! Now, what normally happens when you are describing this new ground rule is that they won’t believe you. So when the first panelist starts to answer the question…and takes his first breath, you MUST JUMP IN! And watch the rest of the panelists go ‘Whaaaaat?’ The second panelist starts to panic and everyone calculates!
With these rapid-fire polling techniques during your panel discussion, you can rattle through a lot of questions and get a lot of interesting engagement from all your panelists in a very short period of time!
Big shout out to Brian Walter, Founder of Extreme Meetings, for curating this list!
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Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator, and high-stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.