Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Terry Brock, technology trends expert, virtual panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame to share his tips on getting questions from the audience via an “ombudsman” during a virtual panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.
Kristin: Terry, how do you get the audience questions from the ombudsman?
Terry: How do we know when the questions are there? I did a little trick last week; I’m going to share it just between you and me. Don’t tell anybody else. Don’t tell any of the grownups how we do this. But what I did is I said, “Her name is Vicky, a wonderful, wonderful lady.” And I said, “Vicky, here’s what we can do.” And she said, “Yeah, I don’t want to be on there all the time.” I said, “Hey, I’ll tell you what, with Google Plus Hangout, you have an option, the same with Skype, you can take out your camera so you’re not seen; you just click on the little button and you mute your mic as well.”
So what she would do is I introduced her; she is going to be here. She will be in the background, and then when I went into talking about the main topic I was covering, she muted her microphone and she dimmed or shut down her camera. She was there but the signal was between her and me. If some questions come in, and she wanted to share those questions at specific points like about ten after (we started at the top of the hour) so at ten after, twenty after, thirty after, etc., somewhere in there say, “If you want to, or if there is something important, I’ll know that you have a question if you simply turn your camera back on” because I would then see as a moderator, I would see her picture in the lower right corner, signal to me. A-ha! Vicky has a question. And so she would come on there and do it and then she would mute her microphone.
I’d say, “Well, Vicky, do we have any questions that have come in?” “Well, Terry, strange that you would ask this because—” and so we did it that way and it worked out really smoothly on that. Being able to go back, so there were two or three questions, I answered those. She said, “Thank you very much.” And then I say, “And that, of course, this leads us to our next point of –”And then she’s gone and then I just watch for her again throughout the session.
She would come on and toward the end. We had a lot of questions that started coming in even more so she was on there regularly. And that was great to be able to listen to her and her advice, and then there was another person that was on there as well. So, in between the three of us, we were able to cover a lot of ground and give some really good value. And we know it’s good value because we had the immediate feedback coming in through Twitter.
The people were able to say, yes, we liked this. Plus another benefit of it, we now have a record on Twubs of all the tweets that were submitted during that hour that becomes part of the record of it along with the video that’s over there on YouTube. So it’s really sweet. This is pretty cool to be alive today. They could not do this back when Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
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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!