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Run of Show For a Panel Discussion

I am often asked for a sample script for a panel discussion. I am not a big fan of scripting the panel, word for word. Sometimes it is necessary (where legal review is required), but otherwise, I’ll use talking points. Here is a sample of a panel discussion script.

I prefer to use a “run of show” which has multiple uses:

  • It allows me to formulate the flow of the panel discussion
  • I can share it with the panelists with cues on what they need to do to best prepare for the panel
  • I can share it with the meeting organizer so they are on board with the plan
  • I can share it with the A/V team so they can support the various elements
  • I can “slim it down” to one page (front and back) and use that as my notes for the panel

Here is a recent “run of show” of a panel on innovation. I have “washed” the specifics about the association and the panelists, but you should get a good idea.

Panelist slide 1 comes up, panelists sit in chairs similar to the order on the slide

0:00   Welcome

  • Event Chair introduces Kristin
  • Welcome to the panel (Kristin)
    • Process – we are going to have a lively conversation with three members about some of the innovations going on in their company for about 45 minutes and then 20 minutes for audience Q&A and then a quick wrap up.
    • Q&A – we are going to let your top-voted questions drive the Q&A.  How to do it – just add your questions into the Q&A section of the app for this session, upvote any question you want the panelists to answer and we’ll start with the top voted question and work our way down the list until we run out of time.
  • So let’s dive right on in!

0:03  Introductions

  • Whiteboard question – What’s the one word that comes to mind when you hear “innovation” in the industry?
  • Panelists write down on whiteboard/audience chat amongst themselves
  • Kristin goes into the audience to capture a few words
  • 1-2-3-Go!  Share your whiteboards/react to each other!
  • Kristin to introduce each panelist with name and position, and ask the panelist to share their word and why/how it is tied to your innovation.

PREP WORK:  Come prepared with your word written with a provided thick (black) marker on white foamboard.  It can be a non-word – something that would inspire curiosity and/or interest!

0:10  Innovation requires a new way of thinking/working

  • All three panelists identified this as a key point to innovation.  Kristin to call Panelist A to share what he means by a new way of thinking/thinking differently.  Panelist A tees up his thoughts for no more than a minute.  Fellow panelists chime in.  (Lean forward if you want to speak, panelist can ask another panelist to comment). 
    NOTE TO ALL about “Chiming in” – be additive and not repetitive.  Okay to say yes, and….Not necessary for each panelist to chime in.  There will be additional time in the Q&A.
  • Kristin to call on Panelist B about her perspective about a new way of thinking.  Fellow panelists chime in.
  • Kristin calls on Panelist C to share what he means by “new way of working.”  Fellow panelists chime in.

PREP WORK:  You e-mailed me your key points, so you have done this work.  Review your notes, please!

00:20  Quick Check In on Our Assumptions

  • Kristin to pose an assumption about innovation and you answer on the count of three whether you buy into that assumption….or not (green thumbs up if you agree and red thumbs down if you disagree).  If there is disagreement, we’ll devote 30 seconds to why/why not and then move on!  Some ideas….I will probably only ask 4:
    • We have to look outside to get inspiration for innovationsInnovation has to be super sexyInnovation costs a lot of moneyInnovation has to be a really big dealInnovation has to be in the product
    • Innovation takes a long time

PREP WORK: Let me know if there are other/better questions to ask.

11:25   Marketing Innovations

  • Let’s shift into a Marketing Innovation Lightning Round!  Each panelist will be given ONE MINUTE to share their marketing innovation(s) – and I have a timer!  When we have done two rounds, we’ll have a conversation about them.  Listen closely as there are opportunities to piggyback on each other or just to ask questions because YOU are curious!

PREP WORK: Come prepared to share your two ideas – each in ONE minute.

11:35  AI and Machine Learning – Audience Interaction

  • Kristin will ask a question to the panelists AND audience.  On a count of 3, hold up your flags indicating your answer (green flag if you agree with the statement, yellow if you are unsure/no opinion and red if you disagree).  I’ll gauge the % of flags in the room and then turn to the panel.  React to your fellow panelists in a “debate style” format with one person who agrees, and then one who doesn’t. 
    • AI is just a buzzword.  A fad.  No need to worry about integrating AI into your operations…at least for a little while.  (Panelist C to take lead to react) AI is expensive in time and financial resources to deploy. (Panelist A to take lead to react – share Synthesia story)
    • AI will obliterate our ability to be seen as a “thought leader” (Panelist B to take lead on this – it’s all about the web/ways you are using AI in marketing).

PREP WORK: Let me know if there are other/better questions to ask.

00:45   Audience Q&A

  • Kristin to share the process.
    • Event Chair to pull up the app and Kristin will ask her to ask the top-voted question
    • Sprinkled in with some live audience Q&A – with clear ground rules:  Quickly – Your name, name of panelist(s) you want to direct the question to, the question in one sentence.  We want to get as many questions answered as possible!

1:05  Three Final Questions

  1. To the Panelists: “If there is one thing you want the audience to think, feel, or do as a result of our conversation here today, what would it be?”
    PREP WORK:  Come prepared with 2 or 3 answers to that question, so you won’t have to repeat another panelist!
  2. To the Audience: “What’s the one thing you are taking away from this conversation?”
    • (If time, go into audience and debrief a few answers)
  3. To the Panelists: “What did YOU learn here today as a panelist?”

1:13  Summarize and Thank you

  • Next up is lunch!  Our panelists will be available to chat and I encourage you to continue the conversation by being curious about how YOU are innovating your business!
  • Event Chair to thank Kristin and the panelists – and the “side benefit” of seeing an innovative panel discussion.  We have a special treat of Kristin’s book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion – in the back as you exit the room. 

1:15 Adjourn to Lunch

I hope this is helpful as you create your own run of show for your next panel discussion!

Related Articles

How to Structure a Panel Discussion

10 Common Mistakes Panel Moderators Make

How to Moderate a Panel

For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative 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.

Kristin Arnold



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Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.
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