Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Mark Sanborn, Leadership Keynote Speaker, panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame to share his ideas on what drives him crazy about panel discussions at meetings, conferences, and conventions.


Video Transcript

Kristin: Mark, what drives you crazy about panels and what do you do about it?

Mark: Well, the first thing that drives me crazy is when the moderator or the panelists aren’t prepared, and obviously from some of the other comments I’ve made, that wouldn’t be a surprise, but a lack of preparation suggests a lack of concern and care for the audience. It basically says, “You know, I don’t want to be inconvenienced. I can wing it and you’ll still receive great value,” so I think that a lack of preparation is number one.

Number two, I don’t like over-sized egos. It’s easier to put up with from a panelist than it is from the moderator. Again, the moderator’s job is to facilitate, moderate, not to shine and be the star.

Probably the other thing I’m trying to think… those are probably the two… oh! I would say that a lack of civility or an excess of interruption, and a good moderator will calm down an overexcited or zealous panelist who interrupts too much or who won’t let someone else finish. You know, I to date, haven’t done a political debate kind of panel. That’s probably a different beast and most people listening or you or I would deal with, but I would say sometimes people just get excited and they’re like Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter for anyone old enough to remember that show.

And so, I would say that also can become very off-putting, or the dominance of one panel member over the others where, you know, somebody just gets two-thirds of the time and everybody else shares the remaining third.


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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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