Turn Boring, Ho-Hum Panels into Lively Panel Discussions
April 7, 2014
common mistakes panelists make during a panel discussion
10 Most Common Mistakes Panelists Make During a Panel Discussion
April 14, 2014

You don’t have to rely on the traditional panel formats.  Instead, spice it up with a more entertaining and engaging format – and the best source of inspiration comes from television!

That’s right.  Television.

Remember Phil Donahue?  (I know – I am showing my age, here…)  He pioneered walking into the audience and reflecting the questions and conversation to the guests (panelists) on the stage.  That’s called “Donahue Style” – although more recently, people call it “Oprah Style” since Oprah does the same thing during her talk show.

What about John McLaughlin, the host of the McLaughlin Group?  John has a loud and powerful voice who often makes witty and sometimes arguably outlandish predictions.  Usually, John sets the context for the topic and may take a poll from the audience.  The conversation starts out mild enough.  As opposing viewpoints emerge, there is more verbal sparring, good-natured ribbing and occasionally very loud crosstalk as panelists attempt to out-yell the others.

But not as much as what you see in a “Crossfire” format.  I always think of “60 Minutes” and their version of “Point/Counterpoint” for this format where the topic is presented and each panelist presents their “side” of the topic which is then rebutted by another panelist.  You can also extend the conversation into the audience and ask for feedback as well.

Feedback is a very powerful tool so take inspiration from “American Idol,” “The Voice” or other reality TV contests where audience members ask for feedback from the expert panelists.

You can also tone it down into a chatty, conversational style.  Think “Friends” at the Central Perk Coffee Shop.  It’s an intimate conversation that the audience is privy to the thinking of the panelists.

And the list goes on… What panel formats do you use that are based on television?

For more powerful panel discussion tips make sure to subscribe to this You Tube channel.

Related Articles:

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Add a Little Pizzazz To Your Next Panel Program

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.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Kristin Arnold



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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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