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.
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?
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.