1. Plan well in advance. With your chairman and fellow panelists, work out what you are going to talk about. Stick to a few large questions; don’t get bogged in detail. Start strong and end well. Plan where the big debating points are going to be. Prepare your stories and your advice (see below) well in advance.
2. Be useful to your audience. Does the conference audience genuinely want to hear your every thought? Or can you turn your experience into useful tips for them? Plan what you say to be valuable to your audience. Give advice and illustrate with examples. One great piece of advice is worth a dozen opinions.
3. Stick to a few big ideas. It is always tempting to have an opinion about everything. But it is better to have a few ideas and continue to reinforce them. Don’t speak unless you can really add value.
4. Tell personal stories. Avoid the abstract ideas where you can. Illustrate your thinking with real stories. The more personal, the better. Your audience will find stories more memorable and more interesting.
5. Disagree. The worst conference panels are when everyone agrees with each other. Aim to disagree – create a debate – discuss the issues. It’s more interesting for you and for the audience.
6. Speak Up. Finally, remember you are on stage. Use all the great tips and tricks that great presenters use: Speak louder than usual. Use pauses. Short sentences. Eye contact with the audience. Smile. Open and positive body language. It all helps you be recognised as an interesting and useful person to work with.
If you want help preparing for your next conference panel, do give us a call.
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