How to Moderate a Panel Discussion: Definition of a Panel (Video #1, 4mins)On October 12, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
Welcome to this first series, one of seven
short video e-courses about How to Moderate a Lively and Informative Panel Discussion.
My name is Kristin Arnold, and I’m a high-stakes meeting facilitator as well as a professional
panel moderator, and today’s topic is “What is a panel?”
Since we are talking about panel discussions, let’s start at the very beginning because,
well, I hear that’s a very good place to start. So, a panel. The definition of a panel discussion
is it’s live or virtual, around a specific topic with a selected group of panelists who
have differing perspectives- and that’s a key point that they have different points
of view. It’s in front of a larger audience and typically
a moderator guides the event. Theoretically, that would be you, and the panel is usually
three to four experts who share facts, opinions, and have a discourse among each other and
with the audience- and that’s key. In a panel discussion, it is a conversation.
Some panels are presentation after presentation after presentation with a Q&A right at the
end. I don’t really suggest that format because you might as well give them a speaker slot
and let them manage their own Q&A for themselves. So, I think the point of having a discourse,
a conversation, a dialogue, among the panelists and among the audience is key to having a
successful panel discussion. Typically, a panel discussion lasts between
60 and 90 minutes. Anymore and the audience is squirming because they need to take a break.
So, a panel is not a set of presentations as I said before. If you’re going to have
a set of presentations with a little, itty, bitty Q&A at the end, why don’t you just give
them a speaker slot because the audience is only focusing on one speaker at a time?
If it’s also a series of questions that you’re interviewing panelists and it’s what I call,
a “Ping-Pong”- I ask a question of the panelist, the panelist answers, we go on for five or
ten minutes and then I bring on the next one- that would be called a “One on one interview,”
up close and personal, and that’s a great format too but I would suggest that you just
call it a “One on one interview.” Sometimes, you might have a format that’s
just Q&A. There is no panel discussion among themselves before it opens up to the Q&A.
It’s simply Q&A and just to be right about formats, that’s called a “forum.”
So, a panel is a live or virtual discussion, around a specific topic among panelists who
have differing opinions, in front of a larger audience and it is moderated- panel discussion.
They key isn’t that any of these formats are better or worse than any others, it’s just
use the panel format when you believe that the group will generate something much more
interesting in this kind of discussion format. So, that’s your first lesson about “What is
a panel?” Thanks for listening and stand by for video
number two coming to you, soon.