In talking with myriad meeting organizers, whenever I ask about panel discussion topics, I usually get a one or two-word response such as “Leadership,” “Technology,” “COVID,” etc.
While that’s a great start, it’s an incomplete answer! Panel discussion topics are more than just one or two words.
To provide a focus for the panel moderator, panelists, and the audience, craft a topic statement (not to be confused with a panel title) that includes these three elements:
To continue our example: “Leadership Pathways for New Managers’ Career Success at XYZ Corporation.”
The controlling idea is career success. Now the participants know that the panel is about career success, which ultimately, is what they care about.
Once you have the topic statement, then you can go recruit your panel moderator and panelists, create a snazzy title and promote the panel to the identified audience.
The next time someone asks you about the topic of your panel, give them more than a one or two-word subject. Instead, give them a topic statement that has a specific subject, the audience identified, and a controlling idea.
Panel Moderator Research Tip: Find “Dead Space” in Your Topic
How to Prepare for a Panel Discussion
For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative career 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.
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