Professional panel moderator Kristin Arnold asks Scott McKain, Speaker Hall of Fame and author of the book, “Create Distinction: What To Do When ‘Great’ Isn’t Good Enough To Grow Your Business,” about who introduces the panelists during a panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Video Transcript

Kristin: Do you like to introduce the panelists or do you like the panelists to introduce themselves?

Scott: I prefer to introduce the panelists and that’s prejudice from my keynote-speaking standpoint because there are things that can be said in an introduction that I don’t want to say about myself. I’ll give an example. You were kind enough to mention that I’m in the professional speakers’ hall of fame. That gives me credibility with your audience right now. Thank you for that. But if I sit here and say: “By the way, I am in the professional speakers’ hall of fame.” Now all of a sudden I’ve created a dynamic that I don’t want to create and so I want to begin the panel by impressing upon the audience the strengths of each of the panel members. And I want to create an atmosphere where the audience really looks forward to what they have to say.

At the same time, I know as a speaker that there are some things that are kind of difficult for me to say, you know, in that to create that credibility so for me personally, I prefer to start the panel off by saying, “What an incredible challenge that you folks had, or what are the important questions that the panel is going to be addressing today. Let me tell you some of the top people that we have on this panel because I know that you’re going to be fascinated by what they have to say. First off we have…” you know and go down.

Now I don’t mind giving each of them time to give introductory remarks, short introductory remarks, but you ask a great question and for me personally I would prefer that because I could pick out a couple of things that are very interesting. I haven’t done it but I saw a moderator the other day that had asked each of the panel members to say something about them that audience wouldn’t know. And so “Here’s someone who teaches at Duke and has written this book and by the way he finished first, in his age group at the New York City marathon.” Something like that that provides a little color as a part of it. So that’s my preference in terms of kicking it off.


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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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