An important aspect of every panel discussion is creating interaction with the audience – before, during and after the panel discussion.
In a recent interview with Brian Walter, Founder of Extreme Meetings and one of the most brilliant people who makes meetings truly amazing, I asked him specifically about what we can do to overcome a boring and potentially deathly question and answer (Q&A) period during a panel discussion.
Here’s what he said:
“In order to get around that [death by panel], solicit questions three different ways.”
1. In advance of the meeting you send out an email, a Survey Monkey, MailChimp or whatever technology you want to use and get questions submitted ahead of time. Then go through and pick out the good ones. So, you come in with good questions.
2. You can also put 3×5 or 5×7 cards at their tables ahead of time. You let people fill out questions that they anticipate wanting to have, and you do live questions. This way, you have three different directions to pull from.
You can start with, “Now we’re going to go to the audience question part of the panel here. We have one question that was submitted ahead of time. So Bob Schmidlapp here,” and boom, you ask this great question that makes the audience go, ‘Ooh, that’s a good question.’ And then Bob on your panel does a great job!
Then you say, “Okay, another question written on the cards,” and again, everyone knows that it is live and real because they filled out the cards. You now have momentum going and the audience suddenly has belief that this is going to be a good panel.
3. Then you go to, “Let’s go live. Who has a live question?” Usually they’re going to piggyback off of the positive momentum that you’ve already created. So, if you just prep the audience differently, you have dramatically increased the likelihood that you will get some good questions.
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.