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Goodie Bag Panel Discussion Format

When you have a good sense of the various topics you want to cover, try this unique goodie bag panel discussion format:

For each topic, select a small (and inexpensive!) “goodie” that represents that topic. For example, you can select a small light bulb to represent innovation; a “first place” ribbon for best practices; a roll of Necco candy wafers for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Buy enough of each item for each person. So, if you have forty people in the room, buy at least forty of each item and the same number of bags to hold all the items. (I like using organza bags so that people can get a sneak peek at what’s in the bag!)

Put all the goodies in an appropriate-sized bag and place them in the center of the tables or at each seat.

When you introduce the topic to be discussed, ask the participants to pull out the item from their goodie bag and share what that item represents. OR have the participants select an item from their goodie bag and have them shout out which one we should talk about!

The best part of the goodie bag panel discussion format is that the participants can keep the goodie bags as a small token/souvenir of the panel – so you may want to pack a few extra goodies in there! You may be wondering, “What if they select one of the ‘just because I wanted to throw it in there’ items?” Good point. Just say “It’s just meant for you to enjoy it!” 🙂

Big thanks to my colleague, Elaine Biech, for the inspiration for this goodie bag panel discussion format. I attended her speech where each point was punctuated with an item from the goodie bag! Thanks, Elaine!

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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.

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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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