Creative and Audience-Engaging Ways to Conclude the Panel Discussion

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July 19, 2016
Preparing and Facilitating Fabulous Panels – NSA Panel Discussion Debrief
August 1, 2016

My gosh!  Time is flying so fast!  You’ve been facilitating a brilliant panel discussion, and you have just a few minutes to conclude the panel discussion.

Let the audience know that the program is coming to an end by saying, “We’re almost out of time…Just a few key things to wrap up.”

Take a look at your notes and transition statements to summarize the discussion. There are several ways to do this, and make sure you include a sentence or two about each speaker’s contribution:

  • Top Three Insights. Share the top three insights that seemed to resonate with the audience.
  • Big Picture. Share an integrated view of what has been said. Point out the convergences and divergences of viewpoints while remaining neutral yourself.
  • Personal View. Link back to your opening and share what you heard, what you learned, and why it’s important to the field.

You can also ask the panelists to summarize the session by asking for:

  • One Final Thought. Offer each panelist a last opportunity to share a key point, what the panelist is taking away from the conversation.
  • The One Thing.  Ask each panelist for the one thing they hope the audience takes away from the conversation.
  • Future-Forward.  Ask a question about the topic’s future such as, “What important new trend will we be talking about at next year’s conference?”

If you have a little time, why not ask the audience to summarize the session?

  • Shout Out.  Ask the audience to shout out what they consider to be the most important point(s) made – and how they can personally apply the information.
  • Integration.  Encourage the audience to think about what they heard and how it fits in with what they already know.  Ask if there were any surprises or insights.
  • Challenge.  After the moderator and/or panelists summarize, ask the audience, “So, what are you going to do about this?” Solicit some answers from a few audience members.
  • Nudge Your Neighbor.  Ask your audience to talk with the person(s) sitting to the left and/or right about the most meaningful point(s) that are most applicable to their work, and how they will apply the information when they get back to the workplace.  Debrief the small group conversation.

You might also want to conclude the panel discussion with a few housekeeping items:

  • Best Contact Info. Let the panelists share where they can be found online or where others can learn more about them. Model the final statement for them as, “I work at company U in V role. I can be found online at W.”
  • Promotional Kicker. Allow the panelists to let the audience know something about them or their company e.g. when their upcoming product release will be.
  • Thank You. Quickly thank the audience, conference sponsors, meeting chair/planner, A/V crew and each panelist by name.
  • Gifts. If there are gifts for the panelists, have them ready to hand out or show the audience ONE of the gifts that you’ll give each panelist after the session is over. Present the gift to each panelist right then and there or immediately after the panel.

Invite the audience to extend the conversation in the front of the room, in the hallway, or in the bookstore immediately after the end of the session. You can also encourage the discussion to move online to the conference website, blog, wiki, forum, or social media platform group (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn). Share any additional resources available to the attendees. Encourage any photographers to post their pictures.

Add in any final announcements such as the location of the next activity following the panel. Alert the audience to upcoming events, future programs, handouts, evaluation forms, educational credit forms and other details as necessary.

Then, ask the audience to join you in expressing appreciation for such a brilliant panel discussion with their applause. As you conclude the panel discussion, start clapping and the audience will clap, too!

Related Articles:

How to Organize a Panel Discussion

How to Structure a Panel Discussion

Ground Rules for Panelists During Panel Discussions

How the Moderator Can Introduce the Panelists During a Panel Discussion

27 Popular Panel Discussion Formats

For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series or our 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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