Example of a Panel Moderator’s Agenda for a Panel Discussion

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I just moderated a panel discussion of meeting professionals at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) Convention in Edmonton, AB.  Not only was it an excellent conversation, but several people had asked me about the process I used.

So…I thought I would share the detailed agenda I put together to help me think it all through AND I also shared this agenda with the panelists so there would be no surprises.  🙂

Hope it helps you think the process through for your next panel discussion!


Fact or Fiction: What Every Professional Speaker Needs to Know


10:00 As people are walking in from the general session:

  • Upbeat music
  • Slide on screen inviting people to submit their questions via sli.do
  • Flags placed at each seat
  • Pre-seeded questions will be on sli.do to get them started (Thanks to Lauren Pibworth!)
    • Do you like to receive printed one-sheets, or is a downloaded one off the site enough?
    • How do speakers stay “top of mind?” What special touches do they use?
    • What are your top five pet peeves when working with speakers?
    • What topics/industries are really hot now?
    • What do you see your clients looking for that is not being served?
    • What attracts a meeting planner to a speaker’s marketing?
    • What are the top five questions you have in your head when you hit a speaker’s site?
    • What can speakers supply to make your job easier (e.g. one-sheet, long, medium and short versions of our bio, headshots, etc.)
    • Once you have determined the top three fits for the conference/event, what can we do to make US the easier choice to recommend?
  • Panelists will initially be sitting out in the audience toward the front – preferably mingling with the audience members. During the introductions, you’ll be sitting on a barstool (that swivels!) and have a handheld microphone.


10:15 START! Kristin to welcome the audience and share the objectives

  • Take the mystery out of how bureaus, agencies and event planners work
  • To learn, firsthand, what busy event planners are thinking, asking, and worrying about as they select their speakers
  • Show how you can use technology in your Q&A sessions
  • All about valuable takeaways to grow your speaking business

10:16 Small Group Discussions:

  • What questions do you have/what do you want to know?
  • Input into sli.do using your smartphone
  • “Like” the questions you want answered/discussed

10:17 Introduce Panelists:

(New slide: Please come up as I BEGIN to introduce you and sit in the same order as on the slides.)

  • Shari Bricks – is a Certified Meeting Professional and owner of Bond Association Management, a full-service association management company, where she is not only the CAPS Executive Director, but she also manages x other associations who also happen to have myriad meetings that hire professional speakers. Let’s give a warm CAPS welcome to Shari Bricks.
  • Christa Haberstock – is President of See Agency where she manages, consults and represents a cadre of elite corporate talent, personally booking over $3M of speakers annually into corporate events. Originally from Edmonton, please give a warm welcome HOME to Christa Haberstock.
  • Anh Nguyen – is Principal at Spark Event Management, Inc. out of Calgary. In an average year, she plans 15-17 events – typically annual, recurring conferences and tradeshows for not-for-profit and associations as well as conferences, professional development events in the corporate sector – averaging about 20-25 speakers each. Do the math and that’s between 150-200 speakers. Let’s give a big thanks to Anh Nguyen for making the trip up the Corridor to spend some time with us!

10:20  Fact or Fiction?

  • Share the process:
    • Kristin to make a statement (Here’s my suggested order, but I’ll go with how I am feeling…and we may not get to all of them!)
      • Bureau agents are always on the hunt for the next big thing in the speaking industry (Christa)
      • Associations do not have budgets to pay for professional speakers (Shari)
      • Planners only book speakers through bureaus (Anh)
      • Many meeting planners believe it is better to hire an internal public speaker because outside professional speakers don’t deliver. (Christa)
      • The meeting planner has the final say over which speakers are selected. (Anh)
      • A speaker’s fee is directly related to the quality of that speaker.
      • Speakers bureaus are not necessary (Shari)
      • Meeting planners prefer flat-fees for travel and per diem or lumped into the total fee. (Christa)
      • You MUST have a robust online presence to get booked. e.g. website, social media activity with a huge Klout score, Demo video and video snippets posted on YouTube, and an email with your domain name.
      • A 30-second video is your best marketing tool (Anh)
      • A speaker can speak at any event (Anh)
    • Audience waves a flag to indicate opinion, (green for agree, red for disagree)
    • Panel discusses their opinion for about two minutes. (note: I will ask the panelist who submitted the statement to start the discussion – unless it was me, and then I’ll just call on whomever looks “ready”.) [Panelists: Make this very conversational…build on, disagree with, and above all provide VALUE to the audience!]

10:50 Audience Q&A

  • Kristin to show the sli.do question screen
  • Kristin to ask the top-voted question
  • One panelist starts the discussion…other panelists chime in. (Note: please be additive and not repetitive! Keep it conversational and lively – thinking about valuable takeaways for the audience). No more than two minutes on a specific question. I am sure there will be LOTS of questions!
  • Kristin takes the next question from the list and repeats
  • Thank the audience for submitting the questions.. and for the questions we didn’t get to, we’ll post them on the CAPS Facebook page/other social media platform (since Christa and Anh aren’t members?) for us to continue the conversation.

11:25 Closing

  • Kristin to ask all panelists: What’s the ONE thing you want us (the audience) to DO as a result of this brilliant conversation?
  • Thank the panelists and audience…panelists will be available to talk….
  • Direct them to the next breakout session.


For more resources on how to make meetings, panels, and room sets better, make sure to check out this knowledge vault which is chock-full of customizable checklists, worksheets, templates, agendas, sample emails, video interviews and webinars with industry icons and professional moderators.

Related Articles:

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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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