Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Dr. Chip Bell, professional speaker and panel moderator, to share the kind of format he prefers to use when moderating panel discussions at meetings, conferences and conventions.

Video Transcript

Kristin: Chip, what kind of format do you use when moderating your panels?

Chip: The most typical- there are many- but the most typical is everybody’s got a mic, usually a table mic, they’re set up on a long table, I’m usually behind a lectern guiding them, but I’m positioned so I can see the panel face to face, and not beside them, I can see them and I can see the audience. So, that’s if you looked at it physically, that’s probably what you’d see.

I’ve done others where — some of the most interesting ones I’ve done is when you do theatre-in-the-round, and that’s a really fascinating format. I learned that from Neil Diamond. Not literally, but figuratively speaking.  He does a concert in which he has a stage designed so that he literally is in the middle and the audience is all the way around him.

And so everybody in the audience, no matter where they are seated gets the same kind of exhilarating concert and it gives it animation and it gives it an energy and it gives multiple perspectives and so I’ve done panels where the panel is seated in a circle and the audience is around them, and so that’s sort of fun to do theatre-in-the-round. Usually, when I do that, I’m not behind a lectern. I usually have a cordless mic because I’m constantly moving with the audience. 


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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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