Panel Moderators: Prepare Your “Cutoff Phrases” Ahead of Time

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It’s not a matter of “if” one of your panelists on your panel discussion will ramble off-topic.  It is when it will happen. Especially when moderating a virtual panel discussion, you don’t have the lower level intervention strategies of eye contact and movement that can get them to closure.

So why not be prepared for the inevitable? 

Prepare some “cut off phrases” to bring the errant panelist back on track:

  • “You have an interesting point there, but we want to know more about ________.”
  • “Wow, that’s one side of the coin.  [A different panelist who hasn’t had the opportunity to contribute as much], do you have a different perspective about this issue?”
  • “We’re going to shift gears here…” [and then change the focus of the discussion].

If someone is dominating the discussion, Angela DeFinis recommends that you “watch the person’s natural breathing rhythm and then interject between breaths, ‘Thank you, Julie. Now let’s hear Bob’s perspective on this topic.’”

But then again, you can uber-prepare by asking the panelists what “cutoff phrases” they respond to.  Tell them you will use this tactic for keeping the panel discussion focused and on time.


Related Articles:

Don’t Forget the VIRTUAL Audience During a Hybrid Panel Discussion

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

Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions


For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. 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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