Thanksgiving is this week – hooray! It’s my absolute favorite holiday of the year. It is a special time to reflect on all the blessings we have. Especially this year, I am so grateful for our health, happiness, family, and friends.
So it is no wonder that I started thinking about how we show our appreciation to our panelists for sharing their brilliance during a panel discussion. Considering that most panelists are doing this as a courtesy to you or your organization, one or two of these ideas will make them feel better about the whole experience:
Ways to Thank a Panelist in a Way They Will Appreciate
The Gift of Attention. Especially if your panelists are traveling from another city, treat them as “Very Important People” – the VIPs that they are:
- Meet Them. Have someone to pick them up/drop them off at the airport.
- Dine. Take them to a special restaurant, spending time to get to know them and their interests.
- Tour. Arrange for a tour of the town or desirable attraction.
- Compliment. Say something nice about their participation on the panel.
- Seek Them Out. After the panel, make it a point to personally and genuinely thank each panelist for a job well done!
- Welcome Note. When the panelist arrives, there is a warm note of welcome waiting for them at the registration table, hotel check-in, or in their room.
- Basket. If staying at a hotel, have a small collection of useful goodies or munchies. They might be tired and appreciate a light snack or beverage.
- Thank You Note. Send a personal email or handwritten note including a specific contribution they made to the panel.
- Photo. Send a photo of the panelist sharing their brilliance with the audience.
- Framed Photo. Take it to the next step and frame that photo!
- Video. If you captured the panel discussion on video, send them the file or a link to download the file.
- Swag. The conference may have some great promotional items that they are giving to the attendees. Don’t forget your panelists!
- Memento. Does your organization’s brand have something that you can leverage into a gift? General Mills gave me a box of Wheaties with my picture on it. Love that!
- Creative Gift. Think of a gift that captures the essence of the location or the theme of the conference. For example, I had personalized sand candles made for a conference held in a beach resort in Marco Island, Florida. I still have mine!
- Personalized Gift. Tap into the interests and hobbies of the panelists. One of my clients knows I love a good dirty martini, so she gave me a set of hand-crafted martini glasses. (I still have those too!).
- Director Chair. My absolute favorite is to ship the chair we bought for each panelist, complete with their name embossed on the back panel!
- Charity. Give a donation in their name to their favorite charity.
- Foundation. Perhaps the organization has a foundation. Give a donation on their behalf.
- Interests. Tap into their interests and hobbies. I had a panelist who loves dogs, so we made a donation to the local animal shelter.
I’m sure there are other ideas – and I’d love to hear what you do to thank your panelists for participating in a panel discussion!
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For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series or our other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.