How do you handle a panelist who is doing a bit too much self-promotion during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions? Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asked this question of Susan Morris, a fantasy author, editor and absurdly frequent panel moderator at GenCon.
Kristin: Susan, how do you handle a panelist who is doing a little too much self-promotion?
Susan: Usually the time that happens is when they’re answering a question, and they try to always answer it by promoting their books. In the introduction, you can just say, “Oh, I’m sorry, this has to be brief,” and move on to another panelist to introduce themselves. But when they continually use their work in a way that’s inappropriate, like, for instance, if someone’s congratulating someone else’s work, they’re like, “Oh, yes, I do that too and I do it better,” kind of thing, then you just ask them for other examples.
I think you continually point them toward other things or ask them to analyze another book at hand. Because we have so many examples, having a common example everyone’s analyzing can be such a happy circumstance, so useful for everyone, because it gets them focused. And you have to pick something everyone’s read before, or seen, if it’s a movie, because that gives the audience a frame of reference. There’s no point in using someone’s work to explain how they did something if no one’s read it, because it doesn’t provide a frame of reference, and so just redirecting.
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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.
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