As we at White House Marketing have discovered, putting together the perfect panel for a conference can be pretty difficult. You’ll need to find the right group of people to keep your attendees interested instead of tempted to leave or play with their phones. Here are some of the essentials:
• The Moderator: The moderator is the key to a successful panel. He or she will ask the right probing questions and bring points of contention to the forefront of discussion. The moderator doesn’t need to be an expert on the subject matter, but will need to keep everything rolling and interesting.
• Insist on Practice: Be sure to make your panelists practice. A problem with panels is many people don’t think they need to prepare, so therefore they don’t. Help them get ready by asking sample questions and determine some follow-up questions to ask, too. If someone refuses to prepare, consider a replacement.
• The Opening: Don’t make introductions and opening statements long. Focus on getting to the point of the panel and not on explaining what everyone’s done before. The attendees are there to learn new skills and information.
• The Discussion: A great panel will give the audience time to think and apply the information that they’ve learned. Support the moderator by discouraging poor panel behavior, such as verbosity and monopolization. Don’t let things run too long, either. Ending early is okay, however, because it’ll give attendees the chance to network.
Our team members at White House Marketing understand that putting together a panel is a challenge, but you can certainly simplify the process by heeding this information.