While I prefer panelists are NOT asked to give initial remarks or a presentation at a panel discussion, I also realize that some panels are formatted so that the panelists are given a block of time to give a few opening remarks. If this is the case, you’ll want to know how long you are expected to speak, what others are addressing (so you don’t repeat them), and if you can (or are expected to) use slides during your presentation.
This request may come across as an invitation to speak off the cuff and casually introduce yourself to the audience. Right? But don’t take it so lightly as your initial remarks will define the audience’s first impression of you. It is also the only time when you’ll be able to make your case without having to respond to what is being asked of you.
So take some time to create a concise and interesting message that comes in below the time limit. If you have given presentations on the topic before, it will be impossible for you to fit your full presentation into 15 minutes, so you’ll have to choose carefully the points you want to cover and practice this new condensed version. The audience will thank you for your precision.
Keep in mind, as you practice your presentation, you’ll probably take longer during the live presentation than during your practice runs – so make sure you have timed your remarks well.
Also, be prepared to speak for a shorter amount of as it is not at all uncommon for schedules to be adjusted… Perhaps the meeting started late, the agenda item before the panel went longer than expected, or the panelist(s) before you took more time than allotted during their presentations. You just never know what might happen when asked to give a presentation at a panel discussion, but you can be prepared!
For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative leadership panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.