Most of them had one thing in common: they sucked.
It doesn’t have to be like that. So here are my six rules for (panel) life.
I know you’re under pressure from marketing. I know you need to feature the sponsor. I know you don’t want to axe the one speaker with something to say.
But if you have over three panelists, there won't be a real conversation. Don’t.
Don't have someone introduce someone who introduces someone else. And never take more than 20 seconds for any single intro.
Much of the audience will already know who’s onstage. And everyone else can consult the program, or the internet.
Asked to speak for five minutes, the first panelist will go on for seven, the second for 10 and the third for 15. Half of your time has already been wasted on disconnected monologues.
So ax the opening statements, going straight to the conversation.
As a moderator, you’re the audience’s advocate.
If panelists are incomprehensible, ask for explanation. If they drone on, pass the baton. If they talk past each other, make them engage.
It’s your duty to turn the panel into a real exchange of ideas.
How do you stop cranks from taking over the Q&A?Set out clear rules before you open the floor:
* Emphasize that you're looking for concise questions, not long rants.
* Make clear that you will cut people off if they go on for longer than 20 seconds.
Choose a topic in which your audience will genuinely be interested. Make sure your speakers bring different perspectives and backgrounds to the stage.
If everyone agrees on everything, the audience will be bored.
If you follow this simple advice, you’re well on your way toward organizing such a panel.
Congratulations! I promise your audience will be very grateful...