If you are a panelist or a moderator on a conference panel this year, you want to make it a success. Panels are excellent marketing opportunities and a great way to raise your profile. Businesses and careers have been launched with great performances on conference panels.
While great panels look effortless, that’s only because the panelists have prepared carefully. As a moderator you should create great questions (the simpler and bolder the better) and share these with your panelists in advance. As a panelist you should think about stories and examples you can use to illustrate what you are saying. It’s much better to have a few strong ideas to talk about than to offer an opinion on everything under the sun.
A great panel will inform, educate and entertain. While you may think that a panel is a great opportunity to share your thoughts, in reality your opinions are not very interesting. Much more engaging are the stories you tell, the practical advice you give and the different position you adopt. Avoid saying “I agree” – that phrase kills a panel discussion.
A panel is not a fireside chat. It’s a piece of entertainment where you need to speak out directly to the audience. Use all the skills of public speaking to bring your language to life: short phrases, short words, long pauses, high energy, big ideas. Sit forward in your chair and look at the audience as if you were speaking to them 1:1.
As a moderator, you set the tone for your panel in the first few seconds. Tell the audience how important this discussion is; remind us how great the panelists are; and give one-line introductions on each panelist (don’t let them each introduce themselves). Make sure your first question is big, bold and unexpected.
If your audience can be part of the conversation they’ll enjoy the experience more. For example, ask them a question early on. Tell them to prepare questions for the experts in front of them. And help them ask interesting questions.
Audience questions are not the best way to end a panel session. Instead, as a moderator, finish your panel with something big. For example, you might ask each panelist for a final one-sentence tip. Or you might end with a summary. And then, as the moderator, tell the audience what a great experience they have had before leading the applause.
Enquire about preparing for your next conference panel
Download our free ebook: Five Steps to Improve your Leadership Talks. It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your communication skills, including:
We have developed a robust toolbox of techniques to help you deliver clear, confident panel performances. We’ll help you look and sound impressive on stage so that you hook and engage your audiences. In just a few short hours we’ll coach you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.
Speak to Louise on 020 7018 0922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help you get the most from your upcoming conference appearance.
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