Powerful Panel Discussion Tip #227 with Mark Sanborn: What Makes You Agree to Moderate a Panel?

Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Mark Sanborn, Leadership Keynote Speaker, panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame to share how he determines when he will say “yes” to moderating a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.


Video Transcript

Kristin: Mark, what makes you say “yes” to moderate a panel discussion when you’re asked?

Mark: Well, first of all it has to be something  of interest to me, and I don’t want to sound commercially crass here but if it’s a paid kind of opportunity, and it’s something I can do, that’s obviously a consideration. Not all opportunities are created equal, and I would love to you know, interview a panel of three world famous actors, you know, from Hollywood but sometimes, I’m moderating a panel of three relatively unknown people who have expertise that the audience wants to hear.

So, you know, I do look at it from a business stand point, but even if it is profitable, the next thing I look at is, “Is this a group that I really feel comfortable in terms of my ability to understand them and more importantly, the objectives for the panel?” That’s something I think a lot of moderators don’t find out and it can haunt you as… what is it you want to have happen as a result of this panel?

And if you don’t know what those objectives are going in, you can have a lively conversation with a whole lot humor and you can have fun and still the panel fails because it didn’t achieve the objectives. So those are the primary two things I look it. I always say in my business it’s about interesting profits, interesting people, interesting places and interesting projects, and of those four Ps, if there’s not at least two or three than I’m going to pause and ask myself if it’s a really a good fit.


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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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