Should call a panel discussion a panel…or not!  Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Brian Walter, Founder of Extreme Meetings and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame.  He’s a freakin’ brilliant meetings maestro who amps up the energy, engages audiences as a way of life.


Video Transcript

Kristin:  Brian, would it help to generate audience interest if we called the event something other than a panel?

Brian:  You don’t have to call it a panel. It is a panel—I guess I’m more in truth in advertising and likely to call it a panel because I wouldn’t want people to perceive a bait and switch. Oh, there is going to be…It’s a panel! Okay, okay, let’s see how it goes.

Now again, it depends. The question is when is a group of people on stage not a panel? Okay, you reframe it as a talk show. A talk show is a more conversational, usually fluffier version of a panel. So this is where—to go to your point you know—what if you don’t call it a panel? I think you can go with it if it’s not a panel, You have to make it not panel-ish. If there are 5 people sitting in chairs or benches in a row facing the audience, it’s a panel. No matter what you call it, it’s a panel. They’ll perceive it as a panel. It is a panel.

On the other hand, if there’s a set, and there are comfy chairs at angles to each other, it could be a talk show. And talk shows are basically a panel, but you have to make it feel more like a talk show—fluffier questions before they get edgy, the moderator is a little more dashing so it can be a talk show. You can also call it an interview. It’s like okay, so we’re going to do a—you know—a trio; we’re going to do an interview quartet, interviewing four people, kind of sounds like a panel. But again, by calling it an interview, it’s going to be much more back and forth and the moderator, the facilitator interjecting more of him or herself. That’s what makes it more of an interview vs. a panel. A panel, the facilitator isn’t really injecting as much of their personality into it, whereas with an interview or a talk show they are.


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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