Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Glenn Thayer, Master of Ceremonies and conference moderator to share his favorite panel discussion format at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Video Transcript

Kristin: Glenn, what is your favorite panel format?

Glenn: I like the presentations then the panel. And what I mean by presentations is not where you sit in a room and it’s presentation, presentation, presentation, presentation, presentation; then we have the panel discussion. I prefer to break them up and have the panel, the people are going to be on the panel, have their presentations before the panel session is even started.

So the panel session is completely separate from the presentations. So you may have different perspectives. In that way it gives them an opportunity to have more than ten or fifteen minutes to do their presentation. They get a little more in depth and they can show their expertise in different areas. Or you can do it in a 60-minute session, say if you got four panelists, that’s the other thing. Less panelists, I believe are better. It’s an easier way to manage things. My preference is three. If I can have three, that’s ideal. But imagine taking a 60-minute session doing three 20-minute presentations with your panelists. Now you’ve got the content. The content is out there for the audience.

The next session becomes the panel session and I might see one or two questions to kick it off so it goes in the direction that my client and I have decided to go. So we get the most value for the audience that gets the most value. Then we kick it off and do Q&A. I don’t believe Q&A should wait till the end. Because most of the time, the most exciting thing for the audience is a question that came out in the field that may take the conversation somewhere else. So the more I can involve the audience, the better. 


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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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