Try a “Lightning Round” to Increase Energy in Your Panel Discussions

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Here’s another way to kick off the panel, finish it up, or interject some energy into the room – especially when you have a “boatload” of panelists (e.g. 5 or more).

Call a “lightning round” where the moderator asks the panelists a specific question, and the moderators have to answer with ONE or no more than TWO sentences – and absolutely no more!

For example, let’s say you are moderating a panel about XYZ topic.  At the beginning of the panel, you could ask, “What’s the one thing that drives you crazy about XYZ?”  or “What do you adore about XYZ?”  Similarly, at the end, you could ask, “If there’s one thing you want people to remember as a result of our conversation here today, what would it be?”  Or, sometime in between, ask, “What’s the one thing you would do to solve this issue/problem.”

It’s best to use a lightning round when you want crisp, defined comments from your panelists.  The key to using this technique is to announce, “And now it’s time for a lightning round!”  This creates a bit of energy and anticipation – and the audience is thinking, “Okay, this is something new!”

Explain the rules of the lightning round.  For example, “I am going to ask one or a series of questions (3 is a nice number) and the panelists will answer with ONE or no more than TWO sentences – and absolutely no more!  This is meant to be a LIGHTNING ROUND where the answers should come quickly.  Ready, panelists?”

Then follow the process as you have outlined.

Using a lightning round is a great way to mix it up, keep the energy high, and help the panelists focus their comments.


For more powerful panel tips on the “lightning round,” visit this blog.

Kristin Arnold MBA, CMC, CPF, CSP, is a professional meeting facilitator and panel moderator.  She is passionate about making meetings and panel discussions more engaging, interactive and collaborative. You can read more of her work in one of her books Team Basics, Email Basics, Team Energizers, or Boring to Bravo.

Related Articles:

Engage Your Panel Audience Early and Often

Spice Up Your Next Panel Discussion with the Newlywed Game!

The Moderator’s Role in Panel Discussions


Photosource: Pixabay

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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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