What should a panel moderator do with a hyper, energetic panelist who just can’t seem to hold back their thoughts during a panel discussion at a meeting, conference, or convention? 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 do you do with a hyper, energetic panelist who just can’t seem to hold back their thoughts?

Mark: Well, I think there’s at least the two-step approach. Number one is just to acknowledge that person and say, “You know, Mark, I’ll get to you shortly. Hold that thought.” And if they keep doing it then you use a little bit of humor and say, “Boy. Mark’s obviously had too much caffeine this morning! I appreciate his willingness and interest in sharing, but I got to make sure that everybody gets their fair share,” which basically lets that person know without being mean-spirited they’d better calm their jets because everybody needs to contribute.

We haven’t talked much about it but I think humor is the great skill set of a good moderator. Not having funny jokes that are prepared in advance, but just the ability to make light of a situation. It lightens the panel but it also can help with difficult or challenging situations where you know something happens and you just need to lighten the mood or rather than respond with anger or impatience you respond with humor. Humor is the great diffuser.


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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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