What is the optimum number of panelists for a panel discussion at meetings, conferences or conventions?  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:  You know you keep talking about five or six panelists on the stage so to speak, what do you think is the optimum number of panelist to have?

Scott:  I think it’s probably four you know three or four is the optimum number, as long as they are well chosen and you know I sometimes think six or seven is getting way too big. You know five you can do. I sometimes like to invite five on the assumption that often one doesn’t show up or cancels or doesn’t have anything to say and then functionally you have four panelists. I don’t care about making enemies to be honest. And so if there is someone who like really doesn’t have anything to say or keeps chiming in about being without anything of interest or is like just talking about their company.

Like I’m kind of fine with that person not keep continuing to say like “Okay Mr. Self-Absorbed like do you want to answer this questions?” and just forcing them to jump in when they have something to say.

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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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