How to rehearse for a conference panel – tips for success

When you appear on a conference panel you have a fantastic opportunity to showcase yourself in front of peers, customers and perhaps even potential investors.

However, to benefit you want to rehearse thoroughly so that you deliver a polished performance and maximise the impact of your contribution. Let’s look at some tips for rehearsing a conference panel.

Review the Panel Brief

The first step in preparing for a conference panel is to review the panel brief thoroughly. The brief should provide information about the panel topic, format, and other participants. It is important to have a clear understanding of the panel’s objectives, key messages, and expected outcomes.

This will help you to tailor your contribution and ensure that you deliver relevant and valuable insights. Don’t be completely driven by what the conference organiser wants. Perhaps you have some better ideas.

And take every opportunity to work with the moderator beforehand to agree the set questions and prepare great stories to tell. Yes, the most relaxed, natural-looking panels are actually well-prepared.

Identify Your Key Messages

Once you have reviewed the panel brief, the next step is to plan your conference panel key messages. These are the main points that you want to convey to the audience.

Your key messages should be aligned with the panel’s objectives and be supported by evidence, stories or examples. It is important to keep your key messages simple, clear, and concise. Never be scared of repeating yourself. The best panellists will hammer home their key messages.

Prepare Your Intro and Closing

Your introduction and closing are crucial elements of your panel contribution. Your introduction should be engaging and capture the audience’s attention. It should provide context for your key messages and set the tone for the rest of the panel discussion.

Your closing should summarise your key messages and leave a lasting impression on the audience. It should also provide a call to action or a recommendation for further reading or research.

TIP: your start sets audience expectations and your end contribution gets remembered. Make sure both are as good as they can be.

Practice Speaking Concisely

Conference panels are typically time-limited, so it is important to practice speaking concisely. This means that you should avoid lengthy introductions or tangents and focus on delivering your key messages succinctly.

You should also be mindful of your speaking pace and avoid speaking too quickly or too slowly. Practise speaking concisely so that you stay within the time limit and make your your contribution is memorable and impactful.

TIP: an old speech writing guide is ‘say something interesting every 10 words’

Rehearse Your Body Language

Your body language can convey as much meaning as your words. It is important to rehearse your body language to ensure that you come across as confident and engaged.

This means that you should maintain eye contact with the audience, use open and expressive gestures, and avoid fidgeting or slouching. Your body language should complement your verbal message and help to reinforce your key messages.

TIP: problems happen when what you say and how you behave clash. For example, if you look away when you say ‘I am very pleased to see you’ you immediately look insincere.

Participate in Mock Panels

Mock panels are an effective way to rehearse for a conference panel. These practice sessions simulate the format and style of the actual panel and you can get feedback from peers or colleagues – or even from a professional coach.

Mock panels can help you to identify areas for improvement, refine your key messages, and build your confidence. It is also an opportunity to practice answering questions and engage in discussion with other panel participants.

TIP: preparing with a professional coach can give you communication skills to last a lifetime.

Get in touch to prepare for your next panel

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About Benjamin Ball Associates

Benjamin Ball Associates  Presentation skills coaching team

At Benjamin Ball Associates, we help our clients to communicate better. You get presentation coaching for executives.

Over 15+ years the award-winning BBA team has coached thousands of senior executives globally to present powerfully. You get access to a transformational toolbox of presentation skills & techniques to help you become a clear, confident communicator.

We’ll help you create a powerful first impression that hooks and engages your audience immediately, and we’ll transform you to deliver clearly, confidently and with impact.

Speak to Louise on +44 20 7018 0922 or email to find out more and discuss transforming your speeches, pitches and presentations.

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Contact us for a chat about how we can help you with your presenting.

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