It’s a cryin’ shame. Panel discussions don’t live up to their potential – a fabulous, spontaneous discussion between really smart people to create valuable takeaways for the audience.
You can blame the moderator for many of the ills (check out the 2014 Panel Report for the details), but you can also blame the panelists – to no fault of their own.
I was recently talking to my neighbor Susan, who graciously proofread the final draft manuscript of my book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to Panel Discussion.
After taking some time to go through the entire book (Thank you, Susan!), she handed it back to me and said, “I had no idea you could do that with a panel!”
As a senior manager at a petroleum company, Susan was often asked to be on a panel, where she conformed to the expected rules of engagement:
And how many times have we seen panelists who follow these same ground rules? It seems like they were all poured from the same mold, programmed to be passive rather than pursue an active conversation.
Susan said “No one structured it so that we could work off each other. It never even occurred to me that we should.”
Ahhh….so it still comes down to the moderator creating a space for conversation to flow.
However, panelists: You are NOT off the hook! Talk to your panel moderator. Share ideas about how to make it more lively and informative. Better yet, hand them a copy of my book and encourage the conversation to begin!