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Difference between a Panel Presentation and a Panel Discussion

I used to think the term “panel discussion” was synonymous with “panel presentation.” After all, most people use the terms interchangeably. While the word “panel” unites them, (see definition of a panel here), they are two distinctly different approaches to a session that has a group of experts sharing their wisdom.

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So what’s the difference between a panel presentation and a panel discussion?

A panel presentation is a more traditional approach to having a panel: The moderator introduces each panelist, does some moderated Q&A with the first panelist, then moves on to the second panelist, etc. I call this format a “presentation style” type of panel. It is clearly not a panel discussion as the panelists are not having a conversation among themselves.

Whereas a panel discussion includes time for the panelists to interact with each other – either from the onset or after the panelists’ initial remarks/presentations.

Why does this matter? A recent coaching client was asked to be a panelist in a panel discussion – only to find out in the panel meet-up that there was not going to be any discussion between panelists. No audience Q&A. Nothing. Nada.

He sounded disappointed. Why not give him a speaking slot to present his ideas rather than having a panel discussion?

Related Articles

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Panel Discussion

Difference Between Moderating and Facilitating an Event

Reasons to Say “No” to an Offer to Moderate a Panel Discussion


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.

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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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