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I am attending a national convention that is using an innovative panel discussion format that I am calling the “P-Cubed Format.” Here’s how it goes:
Present. An intriguing, provocative speaker shares his/her wisdom for 30-40 minutes. (BTW, if you are wondering if your speaker is intriguing or provocative, he/she is probably not! Find another speaker).

Panel. Bring on a panel of 3-4 D.E.E.P characters to discuss the impact of the speaker’s presentation and topic for 20-30 minutes. (NO audience Q&A)

Ponder. Have the audience share their reactions/application of the information within a smaller group for 15 minutes.

See? That’s three “P”’s in a row, so I’m calling it the “P-Cubed Format.” Quite engaging and interesting.

But what happens when the speaker doesn’t talk about the designated topic? Yep. It happened at this conference. The speaker chose to deviate from the objectives printed in the conference program. And it was still an intriguing, provocative presentation – just not what the panel moderator had planned!

So what would you have done?

In this case, the panel moderator stayed with his moderated questions. It was an “okay” discussion that was a little disjointed and awkward. Definitely not the home run the meeting organizers were hoping for.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I would have come out with my moderated question cards and ripped them up in front of the audience! Since the presenter when off script, so must the panel – and the show must go on!

Start with the big takeaway question: “What was your biggest A-Ha or takeaway from his presentation?” or be a little more daring, “What did you find yourself in disagreement on with our speaker today?”

The panel moderator is the champion for the audience, making segues and transitions so that audience gets real value from the conversation. Sometimes, your carefully crafted plan (I call this “Plan A”) just isn’t going to work. That’s when you fall back to “Plan B” – your secondary plan for the unlikely event that something odd is going to happen.

And now if an odd thing happens to the P-Cubed Format panel discussion – you can be prepared for it!

Related Articles:

Powerful Panel Discussion Tip #108 with Joe Calloway: What to Do With a Panelist Who Won’t Shut Up

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

“Turn the Tables” in a Debate-Style Panel Discussion Format

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.

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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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