Panel Discussion Tip #297 with Elizabeth Marshall: Encouraging Conversation Among Panelists

Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Elizabeth Marshall, strategist for authors and speakers who want to become recognized thought leaders AND a talented panel moderator to share her ideas on encouraging conversation among the panelists during panel discussions at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Video Transcript

Kristin: Elizabeth, how do you encourage conversation among panelists during a panel discussion?

Elizabeth: Prior to walking on stage so you know in the green room, I remind them that this is a conversation and that while they don’t have to worry about asking the questions, if they hear something that their colleague just shared that they have something really germane to add, I encourage them to go ahead like to listen for those opportunities to jump in as you would in a group discussion. 

And I’ll say you know, if the conversation goes off you know, we get verbose and it goes off in that direction I will bring us back. So, don’t worry about that, I would much rather you jump in and say, ‘Oh that is actually really relevant to something I saw with my team recently, with our innovation initiative or blah blah blah’.

So I think that setting the expectation and encouraging the panelists to look for those opportunities is great and then when I’ve asked the first question and panelist one or two is answering, then I’m looking for an immediate opportunity to say, ‘Panelist three, I’d love for you to share your perspective…’,  so I’m modeling for them what I’m wanting them to do in terms of jumping in. 

I’m also looking for not in a canned way, but I am intentional about looking for humorous moments you know, in real-time that I can highlight to create a more playful environment, or you know perhaps use sarcasm. You know, whatever feels comfortable for the group for them to loosen up and feel like the audience is joining into the fireside chat that we’re having you know versus a stiff and you know formal panel presentation. 

Looking for More?

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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