Henry Ford (or was it Tony Robbins?) had it right: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” And when it comes to panel discussions at meetings, conferences and conventions, if you always do a boring panel and don’t change the way you look at panel discussions, then don’t be surprised if you get the same ol’ boring, ho-hum panels.
It’s time to break out of the long, white-draped table mode with the moderator standing behind the lectern. It’s time to break away from the traditional format of welcome, introduction, introductory comments, moderator-curated questions, audience Q&A, summary and adjourn. It’s time to carefully select the topic the audience cares about rather than what the sponsors and meeting planners think the audience should here. It’s time to select interesting thought leaders as panelists who have expertise the audience is craving for rather than give the seat to a friend, sponsor, or other person who needs some visibility within the organization. It’s time to engage the audience before, during and after the session rather than expect them to sit docilely, waiting for bon mots to drop out of the panelists’ mouths and into the audience’s ears.
It’s time to think differently about the panel discussion. Upgrade it. Bring it into the 21st Century. Be intentional in making key choices: picking a topic that is interesting to the audience, selecting a skilled moderator to create a lively and innovative format, selecting intriguing and eloquent panelists, and engaging the audience early and often.
Share this website with your colleagues to raise the level of effectiveness of the panel discussion – I hope you’ll join me in this crusade to stamp out boring panels!
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.
Photo source: Design Pickle