Have you ever been to an event where the panel discussion dragged? Or have you experienced a time where a speaker took over the entire panel discussion? How about a panel where the content wasn’t relevant? Most of us have been there before and it’s an easy way for an event’s reputation to go downhill fast.

Panel discussions are a great way to add value to events, but they need to be done well. This means lots of research, moderating and more. Here are three ways that will help you and your team get the most out of your event’s panel discussions.

Be Wise My Friends – Before you choose your panelist, take time to evaluate a variety of individuals. There are a few key factors to keep in mind when doing this:

  • How will they contribute to the conversation?
  • What’s their point of view or opinion?
  • Will they stir controversy?
  • Are they experts in their field?
  • Will they have a good presence on stage?
  • Will the audience relate?
  • Will the panelist mesh well together?

These questions will help you and your team vet the array of panelists that could qualify for your event.

Don’t Make It A Rambling Session – Every year events have themes or specific messaing goals that they are trying to hit. Does this resonate with your event as well? When you working with a panel, you MUST provide the panel with your vision and mission for the event. They need to have clarity around what message you are trying to get across to the audience in order to keep the content on track and applicable. This is a fundamental way to get the most out of each panelist.

Practice May Not Always Make Perfect, But It Does Make It Easier! – Once the panelists are selected and you have identified your goal, schedule a practice session with the panelists. This is considered a mock session and will help the panelists get to know eachother, allow them to think on their answers before the event and it will also allow  the panelist to workout any kinks that they may run into. It may be hard to do logistically but it will make a huge diferece once its “go time”.

So, if your event is planning on adding a panel discussion to the schedule, don’t be intimidated. Panels add value, exposure and multiple point of views that will leave your audience talking. But in order to do this, be sure to take time and plan it out wisely.

What are some other words of advice that you would add for getting the most out of a panel discussion?