Panel Discussion Tip #122 with Mark Sanborn: How You Prepare to Moderate a Panel Discussion

How do you prepare to moderate 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 prepare for a fabulous panel discussion?

Mark: I always begin by getting all the contact information for the people who would be on the panel so that I can contact them first by email and then by phone because I want to do a couple of things. One, I want to assure them that it would be enjoyable, that I would not embarrass them, that they would be glad they were a part of the panel. Don’t skip that part because there is this innate fear, I don’t know how many times that I have crossed it, where especially somebody who has never done a panel before thinks they’re going to be the fall man or the straw man for embarrassment.

Then I always talk about what it is that I expect from them and what they can expect from me. And I use prepared questions. I don’t like the idea of not going with the panelist knowing what I’m going to ask them. I often ask the panelist: “If there were three or four questions that would be ideal for me to ask you what would they be?” They know their expertise better than I do and they can point me in the right direction. I may tweak that question but I want to make sure that they are as prepared as possible for the questions that I am going to ask and then I give them a chance to provide some input.

And then I do a phone call which is basically a way to reassure them and answer any questions that they might have. I also mentioned earlier, I do “backgrounding” in terms of just basic web research around the topics around the people, around the program, around the organization. And that probably in a pretty concise format is how I go about preparing.

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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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