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Here’s a panel discussion tip for panelists from the Founder of Extreme Meetings, Brian Walter.  He calls it “the question behind the question” – a technique where a panelist can probe deeper into the topic.

So the panel moderator will ask an interesting question to all of the panelists (or just you) and you answer,  “Actually, let’s answer the question behind that question” and then you share what the real issue is, thus, showing their brilliance on the topic.

Let’s listen in to a real-life example from a panel at the National Speakers Association where Brian was the panel moderator and had the panelists model this technique:

BRIAN: Let’s start with David. So, David, when should a speaker realize they should be spending a lot more money on their marketing?

DAVID: Brian, let’s ask the question behind the question. Why is that speaker not getting enough bookings?

BRIAN: From the marketing, they already have.

DAVID: So, why is the speaker not getting enough bookings from the marketing that they already have in place?

BRIAN: Ahhhh… now that is a deeper question!


Brian goes on to warn us: “Depending upon your topic, depending upon your panelist, depending upon their comfort level with showing off expertise, you can do that two or three times. You wouldn’t want to do it more than that but it’s a different way that you’re able to show their value or their expertise.”

For panel moderators, you can also coach your panelists to ask the “question behind the question” where appropriate.  It always generates interesting conversation during a panel discussion!


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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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