How can a moderator handle a panelist who just won’t shut up during a panel discussion at a meeting, conference or convention?  Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Boston Globe journalist and panel moderator, Scott Kirsner, who also wrote the highly rated Harvard Business Review article on How to Moderate a Panel Like a Pro.

Video Transcript

Kristin: So what do you do with a panelist that won’t shut up?

Scott:  You shut them up you know it’s. It is—that is one of the hard things you know particularly if it’s someone you’ve invited and it’s like a panel that you put together and you feel. But you know I do feel that you have to be honest like about the way that you use the language and like you maybe tapping them on the knee and saying like, “Jeff that is great. Those are great examples I want to hear what Helen has to say about that.” You and just doing the Segway or like “I want to come back to that,” or like you know those issues, “The stuff you are talking about really could be a whole other panel on its own.”

“And so rather than get too deep into the nitty gritty there I want to move on to my next question which is—” whatever. And sometimes you do have to interrupt people because they’re so tuned out and they’re not looking at your body cues. Where like you’re holding your papers and you’re kind of like waiting to ask the next question or waiting to redirect to a different panelist and you kind of do have to jump in sometimes.


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Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator, and high stakes meeting facilitator is on a crusade to make all panel discussions informative, interactive, and interesting.   Specifically, she wants to help YOU become a better panel moderator.  Why?  Because 95% of annual meetings have panel discussions – and according to the 2014 Panel Report, it’s a fifty-fifty proposition they are any good at all!  Expectations decrease dramatically when your attendees walk in and see the traditional draped head-table with microphones on short stands.  There are sooooo many other ways to have a stimulating conversation!  So let’s increase the probability of success for your next panel discussion with these resources.

And, you can always go back to the playlist for more Powerful Panel Discussion Tips!

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