Audience-Engaging, Powerful Panel Discussion Format
March 31, 2016
The Definition of a “Rapid Fire Panel Discussion”
April 28, 2016

Top 10 Problems with Panel Discussions

In a survey we conducted in 2014 of over 500 executives and meeting professionals, we asked, “What’s your absolute, biggest pet peeve” when it comes to panel discussions?

Since this was an open-ended question, the comments were all over the map:

Pet Peeve Word Cloud

Pet Peeve Word Cloud

 Trying to make some sense of it all,  I then categorized the answers and developed this list of the top ten problems with panel discussions:

1. Ineffective Moderator (26%) – A moderator who doesn’t facilitate the conversation and doesn’t intervene when necessary.

2. Dominating Panelists (17%) – A panelist who speaks much more than the rest of the panelists or takes too much time to make the point.

3. Ill-Prepared (11%)  – Both moderators AND panelists who are not prepared to provide great and interesting content for the audience.

4.“Out of Control” Panelists (11%) – Panelists who either consciously or unconsciously pursue their own agenda without regard to the format or the promise to the audience.

5. Too Much Self-Promotion (10%) – Panelists AND moderators who use the format to shamelessly promote themselves, their company, a product or service.

6. No Audience Engagement (9%)  – A focus on the panelists and no opportunity to engage or interact with the audience.

7. Off Topic (7%) – The panel discussion wanders off the topic or the conversation has no resolution/doesn’t make a point.

8. Not Conversational (5%)  – The panelists do not engage in a conversation with each other.

9. Poor Time Management (4%)  – The moderator doesn’t budget for or use the time economically or doesn’t enforce the time limits.

10. Too Many Panelists (4%) – Too many panelists for a real conversation to take place.


In taking a look at this list, all of these problems are preventable. It all comes down to choosing an intriguing topic, a skilled moderator, qualified panelists and an engaging format.

To get a copy of the report and to learn how to create a lively and engaging panel discussion, go to

Related Articles:

20 Tips From 20 Professional Panel Moderators

Attention Meeting Professionals: The Main Reason Your Panels are Boring

How to Spark a More Controversial Panel Discussion

Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. 

Kristin Arnold



We don’t spam!

Share This:
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.
Contact Us
Skip to content

Our privacy policy has been updated. By clicking, 'I agree,' you consent to the terms therein. I Agree