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audience reflection panel format

My colleague, Sarah Michel, used a creative “audience reflection panel format” at a recent conference. It went so well that her client wants her to repeat the format at next year’s conference!


So what’s an audience reflection panel format?

It starts with a bit of preparation:

  • Create an audience reflection template. In this case, the objective of the panel discussion was to hear from four diverse professionals who took wildly different career paths. Sarah wanted the audience to have something to capture their own reflections whilst the panelists were talking. In conjunction with graphic illustrator, Taryl Hansen, they came up with this template:
audience reflection panel format
  • Graphic illustration. Taryl was also hired to capture the conversation on a large board (4×8’) for continued reflection after the panel discussion.
  • Create opening talking points. Since this panel had so many moving parts to it, Sarah created some talking points to guide the conversation:

In just a few minutes I will be bringing out 4 diverse professionals who each took different pathways to get where they are and the transitions and opportunities they’ve each taken advantage of to get them where they are and set them up for where they want to be in the future.

Before I bring them out, I want to draw your attention to our amazing graphic illustrator, Taryl Hansen, who is from Phoenix who is going to be illustrating for us with pictures the highights of our panel conversation in real time and her board will be moved to the Exhibit area where you will be able to add to it.

Also, if you haven’t picked one up yet at the center of your table is a fabulous career map that Taryl created for us that we want you to each have in front of you now and as you hear an idea, strategy or skill mentioned by our panel that you want to add to your sheet, please do that. This session is all about supporting you in your regulatory career.

After about 20 minutes of moderated conversation with the panel, I’m going to ask you to share with your table what you’re comfortable sharing on your map so as the spirit moves you over the next 20 minutes, write it down under the right section on your map.

Lastly, if you have questions for this panel please go to on your device and enter the event code and post your question and you can like other questions people post and I’ll do my best to ask it if time permits.

The Audience Reflection Panel Format Agenda

Segment One: Opening Remarks (1 min)

Segment Two: Panelist Introductions. All four panelists come onstage and sit in loveseat/living room configuration. Each share a 2-minute snapshot of their career, how they started and what they are doing now. (10 mins)

Segment Three: Lightning round: “I want you each to give me a number using a scale of 1-5 with 1 being totally accidental to 5 being completely intentional, where would you rank your career transition into this profession?” (1 min)

Segment Four: Moderator-curated questions (13 mins)

Segment Five: Audience Reflection. Sarah kicked this segment off with this guidance: (12 mins)

Now we’re going to shift our attention to you. This was the so what, now you all get to talk about the Now what, now what are you inspired to do about your own career path?
Hopefully, you’ve been jotting down ideas and skills onto your own career map (or Individual Development Plan). I’m going to ask the panel to come off the stage with me and circulate around the room.

Let’s bring up the house lights and give you a minute to do some self-reflection and capture anything you want on this map-this is just for you. And then when people are ready at your table, we would like you to share what you’re comfortable sharing with your colleagues at your table and will give you 10 minutes to do that. Feel free to call one of us over to your table if you have a question.

Sarah also encouraged the panelists to go to different parts of the room to be available for questions and eavesdrop on the conversations. She also asked the panelists to listen for some creative, innovative ideas that a participant might be willing to share with the larger group.

Segment Six: Audience reflection debrief. Sarah and the panelists return to the stage and Sarah debriefs the panelists on what they heard. The panelists then identify a few participants to share highlights from their map. (Two handheld mic runners were available to run to the selected participants). (10 mins)

Segment Seven: Crowdsourced Q&A. Take the top-voted questions from Slido and have the panelists answer. (15 mins)

Segment Eight: Wrap-up question: “In one minute or less, what is the most important skill you are developing for your next step? Thank the panelists and the graphic illustrator. Illustration moves to center stage. (5 mins)

After the Panel: The illustrated board moves from the plenary session room to the expo hall.

The audience reflection panel format is terrific for prompting the participants to think about, digest, and apply the panel discussion conversation. Try it – you might like it!

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For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative leadership panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.

Kristin Arnold



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Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.
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