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How to Sit on a Panel

How to Sit on a Panel

I’ve seen lots of panel discussions, both as a member of an audience and as a panelist. There are good panels, there are great panels… and there are panels where everyone in the audience is not so discretely checking their iPhone.


Tips for a Panel Discussion

If you agree to sit on a panel, here are three things you can do to help make it good. Maybe great.

  1. Ask for the questions ahead of time. And prepare stories. The discussion will inevitably take an unexpected turn, but don’t wing it on questions you know are coming. And note I said to prepare stories. I didn’t say to prepare answers.

  2. Don’t ramble. This isn’t a keynote address. Tell stories, but get to the point. And weave in some memorable sound bites.

  3. Interact with the other panelists. Research them ahead of time, and prepare questions for another panelist or two. This is especially helpful if another panelist isn’t getting enough air time - you can lob a question. Don’t rely on the moderator to steer the whole thing. They asked you to participate because you have an interesting perspective. Share it.

But not too much. Pass the mic. No one likes a panel hog.


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