Panel Moderator Checklist for Right Before the Panel Discussion

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It’s show time!  It’s time to take all that planning for an amazing panel discussion and put it into action.

Here is a quick checklist to follow right before the event starts:

Arrive Early.  You just never know what will happen on the way to the event, so get there in plenty of time.

Say Hello.  As soon as you get to the venue, seek out your panelists to say “hello.”   Help them get settled and answer any last minute questions they have.  Chances are they don’t need your help, but they will appreciate the effort.

Check In.  Once you know that everyone is present and accounted for, send a text message to the event chair/planner to let them know all is well.  You may also want to get some feedback on how the conference is going, what areas and topics have been discussed and what areas still need to be addressed.

Walk Through.  Walk through with the meeting planner, audio-visual crew and/or hotel personnel to check the:

  • Room Setup. Review the stage lighting and furniture layout. If the room is too big, encourage the audience to sit toward the front by taping off the back rows. Make sure the panelists have water.
  • Microphones. Test every single microphone to make sure that the people in the back of the room can hear the panelists clearly.
  • Slideshow. Make sure your “clicker” will advance the slides or have the laptop directly in front of you. Open up the file(s) and go over the graphics one last time with the A/V crew.
  • Program. Confirm what is occurring immediately before and after the session and any last minute directions you need to give to the audience.
  • Lights. Don’t leave your audience in the dark. House lights should be half to two-thirds up to spotlight the panel and encourage note taking by the audience.

Meet Up.  45-60 minutes before the panel is to start, meet each other face to face for about 15 minutes.  If a panelist cannot attend, make other arrangements to get together onsite prior to the panel.  Make sure they are relaxed and prepared to have some fun! (Here is what should happen during that meeting)

When all the pieces to the panel puzzle are in place, you’ll be more confident and comfortable moderating a lively and informative panel discussion!

Related Articles:

Powerful Panel Discussion Tip #108 with Joe Calloway: What to Do With a Panelist Who Won’t Shut Up

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

“Turn the Tables” in a Debate-Style Panel Discussion Format

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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