As a leading expert on moderating panels, I am often asked to watch a panel discussion and provide the organization and/or moderator feedback – what went well and what they could upgrade for the next time.
Recently, I watched a panel discussion that had a robust Q&A session. After a few questions, it became obvious that the moderator was selecting men – and caucasian men only – even though others were raising their hands to ask a question.
Which got me thinking about the subconscious biases we have – and how they creep into something as simple as selecting a person to ask a question during Q&A!
First, be aware of your own tendency to pick men, women, certain ethnicities, races, or even sides of the room. For the most part, we tend to pick people similar to us, so just be aware of this simple subconscious bias.
Most people just call on the first hand that goes up, or the closest person to them. And while that might be easy, it certainly isn’t deliberate nor intentional. I suggest you develop a “system” to select a wide range of people within the audience.
I find it helpful to note the visible demographics in the audience and try to replicate at least the same ratios:
Obviously, you want to balance all these variables. Be thinking about whom you have heard from and whom you need to hear from. Pay particular attention to those demographics that have not contributed a question – and do what you can to inspire a lively, informative, and diverse Q&A session during a panel discussion.
For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. To have Kristin moderate your next panel, visit the Powerful Panels official website.
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