15 tips for successfully moderating panel discussions

February 20, 2018 | Presentations, Verbal communication

Panel discussions are a major opportunity to explore important subjects, educate audiences, engage leaders, and to distinguish ourselves — provided we take the steps required to ensure a lively and successful panel discussion. Unfortunately, few panel discussions live up to their promise, and this is most often attributable to a weak performance by the panel moderator.
Keep in mind that panels are more complicated than solo presentations because there are so many moving pieces, as you have multiple panelists to select, prepare and guide through the process. The moderator must control the discussion’s balance and pacing, and to guard against panelists who get long winded or off subject. Then there is the audience, particularly if audience interaction is permitted, which is usually a good idea.
The good news is that almost anyone can succeed as a panel moderator if they take into account and act on the following 15 considerations when preparing for and conducting a panel discussion.

  1. Tip number one: Talk to the audience, not just the panelists, click here.
  2. Tip number two: Throw some “jump balls” while questioning panelists, click here.
  3. Tip number three: Speak loudly enough to fill the room with your voice, click here.
  4. Tip number four: Introduce your panelists with flourish, click here.
  5. Tip number five: Keep the microphone in front of your mouth when speaking — including while swiveling your head to make eye contact with audience members. click here.
  6. Tip number six: Use occasional examples and anecdotes when asking questions, click here.
  7. Tip number seven: Ask follow-up questions, click here.
  8. Tip number eight: Take an opportunity to build on your panelists’ answers by offering your own observations or examples, click here.
  9. Tip number nine: Look for opportunities to involve the audience, click here.
  10. Tip number 10: When appropriate, take hand-held microphone into the audience and turn the discussion into a talk-show format with audience involvement from start to finish, click here.
  11. Tip number 11: Gently challenge panelists when their answers are of questionable accuracy or candor, click here.
  12. Tip number 12: Take command of the lectern, click here.
  13. Tip number 13: Liven-up your language by punctuating or emphasizing certain words and phrases, click here.
  14. Tip number 14: Incorporate some physical movement to your stagecraft, click here.
  15. Tip number 15: Encourage panelist to jump into the discussion without being questioned or prompted, click here.

  16. Mike Consol teaches public speaking, PowerPoint presentation skills and business writing to companies and business professionals in the Oakland-San Francisco-San Jose Bay Area. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 925-449-1040.