A client of mine was just days away from her first panel and texted me in a panic: “How do I bring my panel discussion script on stage?”
She had done all the planning and preparation and prepared a detailed agenda (aka “her script“) with specific segments outlined. But she desperately wanted to know what she should carry with her to the stage.
Personally, I think this is a matter of preference and your anxiety level, so I’ll share all the different options:
4 Strategies to Bring Your Panel Discussion Script on Stage
- Nothing. You’ve done this a million times. You know what you are doing. Frankly, I don’t suggest this, but hey, if you got the goods, and you are that confident, go for it!
- One Sheet. You’ve done enough work that you just need a little confidence to be able to take a quick glance over to remind yourself of a key idea, intriguing question, segment timings, etc.
- The Detailed Script. Perhaps it is your first time and you WANT to bring all your preparation up to the stage with you. Hey, if that will make you more comfortable and confident, I say “Why not?” Just realize that once you get into the panel discussion, you won’t need all that.
- Somewhere in Between. During your prep work/rehearsal, you will naturally be more comfortable with some segments than others. Just print out the pieces you think you’ll need some help with.
5 Methods to Bring Your Script on Stage with You
- Printed on Paper. The easiest (and most obvious) way to bring your script with you on stage is to print it out on sturdy, durable paper (20lb is a bit too flimsy, while card stock is a bit too rigid).
- Laminate your OneSheet. If you are only using one sheet of paper (one side or both), why not laminate it or put it in a plastic protector? Spilled beverages can happen too!
- Printed on Index Cards. Print each segment on a separate index card and punch a hole in the upper left corner. Keep them together with a small ring so you can turn the cards easily and they won’t fall out of order! (Check out this example.)
- Use a Tablet. Forget the paper and do the same thing on your tablet. The nice thing about using a tablet is that it doesn’t matter how big or small your script is…
- Use a Teleprompter. Just like a TV newscaster, upload your script to a teleprompter. This is a fine option to open and close important panel discussions – but it will get in the way during the actual “discussion” part of the panel!
5 Additional Tips for Panel Discussion Scripts
- Create Eye Drama. Because you are massively multitasking (listening to the panelists, determining what you will do/say next, AND trying to glance at your notes), create a little drama on the paper/screen to attract the eye. Bold, highlight, or underline some of the text. Use color to differentiate segments. Asterisks or stars for things you cannot forget!
- Bring a Pen. You might want to make some notes, so leave some white space and margins to write in.
- Go Big! Print or view the text in a Sans Serif font at least 14-point font with 1.5 line spacing (more if you wear glasses and don’t want to have to wear them on stage!).
- Staple It. Don’t forget to staple multiple pages and put the page numbers in a large font on the top right of the page. Collisions can happen!
- Use a Clipboard. My favorite is to use a white leather clipboard to keep the papers looking a tad bit more professional – and I have a hard surface to scribble some notes on. (If doing multiple panels, I purchase clipboards with the client logos on the back and give them to the meeting organizer as a small token of appreciation and thanks.)
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, so let me know how else you bring a panel discussion script with you on stage!
Sample Script for a Panel Discussion
Timing on the Script for a Panel Discussion
Should Panel Moderators “Practice” Moderating their Panel?
For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative leadership panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.