Panel Discussion Definition
Panel Discussion Definition
March 15, 2014
10 Common Mistakes Panel Moderators Make…And How to Avoid Them
March 17, 2014

My good friend and colleague, Sarah Michel, at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting is the creator of the Ten Panel Commandments.  Sarah and I have known each other for years through the National Speakers Association.  Since we are both tall (5’10”) and fairly outgoing when we hang together, we are known as the Amazon Sisters – a nod to the famous (or infamous) Amazonian warrior women.

Sarah has been one of my biggest supporters ever since I started writing my award-winning book, Boring to Bravo  (It’s original form was called “Interaction Insights” that we co-presented at a NSA convention many years ago).   When she found out about my passion for improving the panel discussion format, she immediately contacted me to brainstorm ideas, downloaded the free e-course and bonus sheets, bought the book and joined the membership site (thanks Sarah!).

She took what she learned and created the Ten Panel Commandments:



I. Thou Shalt Serve the Audience. They paid good money (at the very least invested their time) to be there so speak to them (not just each other). Remember without an audience, there is no panel. Don’t make them feel like they are eaves dropping. Help them solve problems and find solutions. Help them connect the dots. Meaning trumps content always.


II. Thou Shalt Be Prepared. Research the other panelist’s positions and determine what makes you/your position unique from the others. Keep your answers short and concise. Prepare 3-5 key messages that matter to this audience. Be ready to support your points with concrete examples and crisp, concise stories that humanize your message and drive it home.


III. Thou Shalt Not Bluster. When you are speaking, keep it short. No more than 2 minutes is a good goal. People prefer snappy, well thought out answers to interesting questions. Think in sound bites.


IV. Thou Shalt Be Additive Not Repetitive. Don’t repeat what has already been said by another panelist. Speak up if you have a different perspective or point of view.


V. Thou Shalt Disagree Diplomatically. At some point, one of the panelists will say something that is not consistent with your own view or perspective. You’ve got to weigh in! Respectfully disagree without being disagreeable. Don’t disagree simply because you can. Disagree because the discussion will benefit the audience.


VI. Thou Shalt Not Self Promote. Some panelists just can’t help themselves pitching their product, service or company. Don’t be that person. NO ONE wants to hear your sales pitch. Instead, make your comments in service to the audience.


VII. Thou Shalt Not Pontificate. Don’t talk down to or lecture the audience. You are there to have a conversation with the other panelists and audience as colleagues, not to serve your ego.


VIII. Thou Shalt Remember All the While Laughter is Good. So have fun.


IX. Thou Shalt Remember Images Speak Louder Than Words. If you’re using PowerPoint, use no more than 7 words on a slide. Select an image that conveys your message.


X. Thou Shalt Remember Attention Span Drops After 10 Minutes. Change up the energy every 10 minutes with an audience question, poll, story or 30 second rapid response to a question. Follow TV programming guidelines (commercial break every 10 minutes).


Feel free to give this to your panelists to remind them not to break the commandments!



Related Articles:

Attention Meeting Professionals: The Main Reason Your Panels are Boring

Catchbox: How to Use the Audience Engaging Event Technology Tool at Your Next Conference or Panel Discussion

How to Keep the Audience Engaged During A Panel with One Simple Trick

Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.

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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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