Top Ten Must-Read Blogs on Moderating a Panel Discussion
January 20, 2014

Welcome to Powerful Panels: a website dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of the panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

I’m Kristin Arnold, a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  I’ve been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  One of my favorite formats for helping executives, experts, and practitioners share their ideas with others is the panel discussion at meetings, conferences, and conventions.

Unfortunately, in a recent survey, the data shows that over 50% of the executives and meeting professionals said that the panel format was merely “okay” – and that’s just not acceptable!  You certainly don’t want to be in the bottom half – you want to moderate one of those panels that just knocks it out of the park!

So why can’t ALL panels simply be amazing?  In my experience, many:

  • Meeting organizers cavalierly approach this particular meeting design element. How hard is it to select a topic, a panel moderator, some panelists and then you are on to the next meeting element. As a result, most panels end up being stale and boring.
  • Some panel moderators simply show up and wing it.  After all, how hard can it be to ask a few people some questions and then do an audience Q&A session? As a result, it’s a crap shoot. Experienced moderators can get away with this strategy, but most humans do not have lots of opportunities to moderate panels. So they usually default to what they have seen on panels before – which is typically stale and boring.
  • Most panelists come ill-prepared to have a scintillating conversation. If you’re lucky, they have devoted 5 minutes to thinking about what they want to say, participated in a pre-panel conference call, and the brilliance then ensues. That’s if you’re lucky.

The theme here is that the panel format is a lazy format. Get invited and show up. Truth be told, the audience doesn’t have high expectations for the panel format, either.

As a leading expert on panel discussions, the truth is that panels can be the rock star of your conference. The highest-rated session with buzz in the hallways about what happened. Furthermore, organizing, planning, moderating, and being on a panel is not hard, once you know what to do and what not to do.

The key is to be intentional in your planning so you can have a lively and informative conversation on behalf of the audience.

I’m thrilled that you have stumbled upon this website designed to help you on your journey!

Welcome to Powerful Panels

Powerful Panel Discussion Resources

  • This blog is a running commentary on the panels as a practice. Pretty much everything you need to know is buried somewhere in here. And if I haven’t written about it, tell me and I will!
  • A FREE (and who doesn’t like FREE?)  7-part video e-course full of tips and techniques that professional moderators rely on.  These short training videos will take you through, step by step, to moderating a lively and engaging panel discussion at any meeting, conference or convention.  And, with your course registration, you’ll receive several bonus templates and checklists.
  • Listen to our Powerful Panel Discussion Podcast.
  • View these quick tips from seasoned, professional panel moderators.
  • Join the conversation in our Powerful Panels group on LinkedIn.
  • Check out this step-by-step guidebook to moderating lively and informative panel discussions at meetings, conferences, and conventions.
  • Add a bit more pizazz to your panel with over 123 ideas to spark your creativity!
  • For the panelists, we have everything you need to know to be a competent and confident panelist in the book, The Powerful Panelist.
  • Access to the Powerful Panels knowledge vault – a compilation of best practices of some of the most successful professional panel moderators.  It’s chock-full of customizable checklists, worksheets, templates, scripts, specialty format agendas, sample emails, PowerPoint templates, video examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly, video interviews with industry icons and professional moderators, recorded webinars and slideshows, industry reports on the effectiveness of panels…and more!
  • Opportunity to hire me as a coach for your panel moderators or to have me moderate your panel discussion.

I hope you join me in my crusade to make all panel discussions powerful and extraordinary – and give me a call if you’d like to chat! Would love to hear from you!


Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources or to have Kristin moderate your next panel, schedule a time to chat!

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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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