Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Dr. Chip Bell, professional speaker and panel moderator, to share his advice on how he prepares for a lively panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.


Video Transcript

Kristin: Chip, what do you do to prepare yourself for a lively panel discussion?

Chip: Well, I think crafting the right questions is one way. I always like to write the questions out so I’ve got them. I always like to have more questions than I’d need.

One of things you want to do that I think is important, is the more transparency you can demonstrate to the audience that you are practicing, the more you’re encouraging the panel to do likewise. And so, having those questions, having them present, and you’ve obviously got those questions and sometimes I’ve used them and sometimes I don’t. I have them there but I take the question and it ends up going in a different direction and it’s fruitful and helpful and you go, “I didn’t need any of those questions.” But it’s always helpful. It also signals to the audience that you have done your homework, that you are prepared, it gives them confidence, it gives the panel confidence, so there is some merit in all that.

The other thing I like to do as much as I can, here again, sometimes you don’t have this luxury, is you like to know a little bit about the panel. So do you know a paragraph or two about their background: who they are, what they are.

So, the more you can personalize it, reference it, “Well, Joe, I know one of the things you do is, you’re CEO of XYZ company and you’ve been challenged a little bit lately with XYZ or whatever. Tell us a little bit more about that.” So the more you can personalize, customize the questions to get somebody to start and bring it out, then that here again, it gives them confidence in the audience. So, I like to do that when I can but sometimes you’re presented with a panel and you don’t have that background.


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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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