Top Ten Must-Read Blogs on Moderating a Panel Discussion
January 20, 2014
Panel Discussion Definition
Panel Discussion Definition
March 15, 2014

Immediately after the debut of the Powerful Panels research findings at Fresh14 in Copenhagen, Steve Bather challenged the delegates to develop a checklist of things they could do, as meeting organizers, architects and professionals to help their speakers and panelists “shine”.  In just 30 minutes, 90 people developed the following checklist using, an electronic meeting productivity software.

  1. We should engage the audience from the beginning. Allow the audience to pose questions to the panel through live technology such as MeetingSphere.
  2. Panels are like puzzles. The moderator makes sure the right pieces fit.  Panels are also like orchestras and the moderator makes sure the music sounds good!
  3. Every 15 minutes of panel requires 1 hour of preparation.
  4. Involve the moderator in picking and interviewing the panelists, and rehearse and debrief panelists before the “show.”
  5. The moderator must ensure the panel understands the wanted outcome is and how to achieve it, focusing on the audience and what the audience needs.  The moderator should connect the objectives, the panelists and the audience.
  6. Panelists need to understand the interest of the audience and prepare as if they would be the only person on stage, focusing on polarizing statements.
  7. Create a comfortable atmosphere where panelists feel safe, strong, appreciated and confident.
  8. Create a structure with clear objectives and rules of engagement that allow the panelists to explore contradictory ideas and opinions to give the audience valuable insight and new inspiration.
  9. Inspire discussion within the objective.  Let the conversation flow with background information and arguments and also make space for disagreements from panelists as well as the audience.
  10. Control the chaos toward the objective.

How did we develop this list in 30 minutes?  Easy!

Step 1: the delegates first brainstormed a list of 115 items and then (Step 2) categorized them into the following categories:

  • Brief the Panelists (24 mentions)
  • Skilled Moderator (19)
  • Brief the Facilitator (17)
  • Staging (16)
  • Choices of Panelist /Diversity (15)
  • Clear Objectives (14)
  • Audience Engagement (7)
  • Clear Outcomes (2)

Step 3:  Each table was then given a category and asked to develop a statement from within that category to create the checklist.  We received 16 statements (one from each table).

Step 4:  After the meeting, I took the liberty of consolidating those 16 statements into the above ten statements and sent them back out to the attendees.

Hope this list is helpful!  You may also want to check out the list of Panelist Do’s and Don’ts to help your panelists shine!



Related Articles:

How to Find “D.E.E.P.” Panelists

Engage Your Panel Audience Early and Often

Top Ten Must-Read Blogs on Moderating a Panel Discussion

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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