Panel Discussion Questions
Panel Moderation Technique: The Audience as the Fourth Panelist
June 3, 2021
Good Panel Discussion Questions
June 15, 2021
Panel Discussion Questions

After years of creating and reviewing panel discussion questions, there are essentially 17 different types of questions panel moderators ask a panel:

  1. The most simple and most used type of question is the Statement Plus a Question that starts with a statement (or two) that provides context for the question. 
  2. A type of SPQ is a Statement Plus a Quote from one of the panelists or someone else who is not on the panel.
  3. Another type of SPQ is a Statement Plus a Statistic followed up with a relevant question. 
  4. The Summary Plus Request for Explanation is when the moderator prepares a brief summary of a position followed by a request for a panelist to explain their position – usually to compare and contrast from the other panelists.
  5. The Flip-Flop Question can be posed when a position or trend has changed over time. For example, “In 2015, you were quoted as [holding this opinion.] Do you still believe [the opinion] or has it changed and why or why not?”
  6. Speaking of positions, sometimes the panelist is asked a Comment Question where they are asked to comment on another panelist’s position. “What do you think about [Panelist A]’s statement?”
  7. A slight variation to commenting on a fellow panelist’s position is a simple Agree/Disagree Question: “Do you Agree with [Panelist B]?” 
  8. Or go for a more controversial stance and use a Polarizing Question that allows the panelists to share their unique point of view. “An expert says [this] about [the topic].  Do you agree or disagree and why?” 
  9. A Statement Plus Details explores how might an idea be achieved and the ability to make it work.  “You’ve mentioned this idea; tell us how you see that working?”
  10. Sometimes, the question needs no embellishment.  No statements, no quotes, no statistics.  The moderator asks a Direct Question.  
  11. Perhaps, the question is so darn good, the moderator will Repeat and Redirect the Question to another panelist.  I call this the “hot potato” and suggest using it sparingly.
  12. The Hypothetical Question – is also called the “what if” question.  “What would you do if/when….?”
  13. Every once in a while, the moderator needs to Test the Unsaid to bring out an unspoken issue. “I am wondering if the real issue is….”
  14. The Human Interest question enables the audience to understand the panelists as everyday people.   “Every leader confronts crises, defeats, and mistakes…What’s the most significant professional setback you’ve had to face? How did you recover and what did you learn?”
  15. The Story Question is when the moderator asks the panelist(s) to provide a real-world story that provides more insight into the topic. “Tell us about a time when you….” or “Give us an example when you….”
  16. Poll the Panel by asking a closed question and all visibly share their position. “This is going to be a show of hands question. Who here would [take one action] in favor of a [different action]?”
  17. Lightning Round where each panelist provides a one-word/short answer. “What is ONE THING you hope the audience takes away as a result of this session? I’m going to go down the line, and we’ll start with [Panelist A]”

Related Articles

Creating Great Questions for Your Panel Discussion

How to Prepare Questions for a Panel Discussion

Your First Question Could Ruin a Panel Discussion

For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series or our other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.

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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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