Powerful Panel Discussion Tip #152 with Mark Sanborn: The Biggest Fear When Moderating a Panel

Panel moderators often put their own brand and reputation on the line when moderating a panel discussion.  So, Kristin Arnold, Professional Panel Moderator asked this question of Mark Sanborn, Leadership Keynote Speaker, panel moderator, and member of the US Speaker Hall of Fame:


Video Transcript

Kristin: Mark, what’s your biggest fear when you’re moderating a panel?

Mark: Well there are several, one is just an overall lack of energy. I think energy is so important to any presentation. It doesn’t mean silly motivational hyperbole jump up and down. But just an intellectual energy or vigor that comes from people who are truly engaged. And a more practical level I think any moderator fears the one-word answer where you ask an open-ended question and you don’t get yes or no but you get you know just very brief answers that you then have to try to extract. And if that happens too much you’ve got a real problem because you know one or two short answers is fine but if you get to three or four you then have to move onto a different panelist.

I would also think that if I am filling in the blanks and this is what you do it’s kind of a Hail Mary when you’re desperate and you’re just not getting anything from the panelist or you’re not getting anything that’s really particularly insightful. As you actually in an effort to help them make, in an effort to help make them look good you start filling in the blanks for them with more interesting answers than they are giving. Again it can help save the panel or at least it can make it less painful, but it is something I don’t like to do as a moderator.


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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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