Panel Discussion Tip #125 with Chip Bell: How to Make Sure the Audience Likes Your Questions

How can a panel moderator ensure the audience is satisfied with the questions they are asking during a panel discussion at a meeting, conference, or convention? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Dr. Chip Bell, professional speaker and panel moderator.


Video Transcript

Kristin: Chip, how do you ensure the audience is satisfied with the questions that you are asking?

Chip: You can leave time at the end and say “What have I not asked that you’d like to hear?” And ask them to fill you in. You can also, one of the things I do sometimes is depending on the size of the group, the size of the audience, the size of the panel is to say

Okay here’s one of the things that you can do to help me. You may have a specific question that you’d like me to ask. You got about three by five index cards at you touch here. Write your question, give it somebody, they’ll bring it up to the stage. I’ll have the questions and sort through them as we go along and ask your question if I can.

And so that often works really well.

Obviously, the size of the audience would dictate whether that could work efficiently. If you have 500 people in the audience and you get 50 cards you’re not going to have enough time to touch it. But if you got a much smaller group then it works quite well. You become—it gives them a way to ask a question or follow up on a question that you may have not known to follow up on, because sometimes you’re there as a subject matter expert and they are the service experts of what they do.

For example, I may do and I’ve done panel discussions for like phone companies and this is like Verizon or AT&T or somebody like that. And so I’ll have questions because I’m there about service, but I may not know the technical aspects that someone says, “Ask them a little about VX45 and how it impacted their business,” I made that up. “VX45 and how it’s affected their business and how they – whether the logon is simple enough.”

Now I wouldn’t know how to ask technical questions like that. But the audience sometimes is dying to hear them dig in a little deeper about the technical side of their business and providing the conduit for them to be able to do that is very helpful.


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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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