I am always on the lookout for creative panel discussion formats, so when I found a panel using Dr. Seuss hats, I was intrigued. So I called Jane Stevens, founder of ACEs Connection Network and panel moderator of the session on “Trauma-informed and Resilience-building Communities: The Journey of ACEs Heroes” at the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) conference.
So here’s the backstory: Her panel was sandwiched between two high-powered “make ’em laugh, make ’em cry” speakers on the “deadly” afternoon of the last day of the conference. So she was challenged to make this panel extraordinary! The premise of the panel was based on a video animation by Matthew Winkler. He, in turn, was inspired by Joseph Campbell, who explored the common themes of a hero’s journey from stories around the world in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The objective of the panel was to describe the hero’s journey and to let others know what to expect and that they are not alone.
So Jane wrote a rap song….and then she shared it with her panelists. Initially, they were shocked (whaattt? This isn’t going to be your typical panel discussion?), but once they realized what she was trying to do, they got into it too! They helped with the pacing and word choice, and then one of the panelists quipped that it sounded more like Dr. Seuss than rap….and they all agreed! So one of the panelists offered to buy some Dr. Seuss hats. Another offered to buy some large storybooks and recover them in the panel theme and put the ACEs story in the books so they could read it on stage…and a creative format was born!
So here’s what they did:
Doesn’t this sound like a fun, creative panel? Stevens said it was very well received and people continued to discuss their own hero’s journies even after the session was over. And isn’t that what panel discussions are all about?
As I was finishing my call with Stevens, she said, “this experience has encouraged me to think more creatively about panels from now on.” I hope this post encourages you to do that as well!
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