Powerful Panel Discussion Tip #118 with Joe Calloway: Encouraging the Panelists to Have a Discussion

Professional Panel Moderator Kristin Arnold asks Joe Calloway, Business Keynote Speaker, panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame to share his ideas on how he likes to encourage the panelists to have a discussion amongst themselves during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Video Transcript

Kristin: Joe, do you encourage the panelists to have a discussion amongst themselves as opposed to a discussion out to the audience?

Joe: It’s kind of however they feel most comfortable. I say, “You’re talking to the audience. They’re the ones that we want to hear all this stuff. So, feel free to look at them, feel free to look at me, feel free to look at your fellow panelists.” And I also encourage the other panelists. This is before we get up there, I say, “Listen, it’s uncomfortable for anybody to talk if people look like they’re not listening to them. So when one of you is talking, do what you would naturally do and look at them. Don’t sit there like, ‘Okay, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.’ Just do what you would normally do in conversation and look at the person that’s talking.” Because people- and you know this, we all know this- people get in their heads about being on a panel and they can get that deer in the headlights thing where, ‘Okay, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do so I’ll just look straight ahead.’ Well that just looks stupid and unnatural. So, tell them just to behave like they normally would.



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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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