How can a panel moderator engage the audience during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences and conventions?  Kristin Arnold, Professional Panel Moderator asked this question of Mark Sanborn, Leadership Keynote Speaker, panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame.


Video Transcript

Kristin:  Mark, what are some of the things that you do to engage the audience?

Mark:  Well you can do some kind of on-the-fly audience polls. You know some feedback polls. You know if somebody says something you might draw it out to the audience and say, “By show of hands, how many of you have had that experience?” And of course if you ask for that kind of feedback it’s a pretty good idea to share with the audience your observation since you’re in the front of the room. You might say, “It looks like at least half the hands in the room are up.” Or you might say this would be interesting. Let’s stir up a little controversy here. How many of you disagree with that?”

In other words just by riffing on what the panelist said the audience now feels even before Q&A that they are a part. They’re lending their confirmation or affirmation or they’re disagreeing. And then of course Q&A which is important, I never rely on the audience to have its own ‘Q’ because without ‘Q’ you have no ‘A’. So I do believe in salting the mine and having at least a half dozen prepared questions and giving them to people with the instructions that, “If there are no questions, if there is a lull to feel free to ask those questions.”

I also I give those questions out with a number so that the people know who is supposed to go first if there is a lull, who’s supposed to go second. So it isn’t like suddenly all six people with the preceded question raise their hands.


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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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