Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Dr. Chip Bell, professional speaker and panel moderator, to share his advice on how to make sure that everyone has been heard during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences and conventions.
Kristen: Chip, what are some of the things you do to make sure everybody gets heard?
Chip: Rules. You have rules that you work out with the panel in advance. I like to think of a panel discussion as a relationship. It’s not just a theatrical transaction, it’s a relationship. And so one of the most important things for the moderator is to get time with the panel before the panel discussion, to lay out ground rules and to help them craft sort of, “What do we do if this happens, what do we do if this happens?”
For example one of the kind of worries any moderator has is, “I’ve got somebody who is real vocal, has an axe to grind, they’ve got the bully pool pit and so they’re going to use it to their advantage. So, one of the things you do with the panel is say, “Okay, everybody probably has a sort of opportunity to say ‘I’ve been wanting you all to know this for a long time, and so I’m going to give you my two cents worth in a very strong way,’” and just sort of dominate or redirect the panel.
“How should we handle that? What would you like me to do? What would you want me to do? If somebody gets off on a tangent, what would you want me to say to get us back on track? What would you want me to do if somebody is dominating conversation and we all know they’re dominating it, how should I handle that? So, obviously I’ve got ways I can suggest, like
So, obviously I’ve got ways I can suggest, like for example, you might say to someone, “That is a very good point but I know there are some other people who would like to make a point with that. Let’s give them an opportunity,” So, you can be gentle, nudging them. But, simply by getting that panel involved in sort of the rules of engagement helps them police each other. I’ve actually had panel members turn to say, “George, remember we said we weren’t going to do that.” And so they more frequently can police each other in a way that moderators, if doing that, come off a little like a school mom.
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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!