Guila Muir

Developing trainers, presenters and facilitators to make a difference

7 Tips for Successful Panel Presentations

I have moderated dozens of panels throughout my career.

Unfortunately, I have also been in the audience for many panels.

I say “unfortunately” because panels can be the laziest, least educational format on earth.

These tips will transform your panel presentations into brilliant and memorable experiences.

Tips for Moderators

1. Do your homework! When planning the panel, ask multiple representatives of the audience what they want to learn. Rank those answers and create questions (and perhaps even a panel title) based on this information.

2. Clarify if this will be a series of short presentations, a free-flowing discussion, or a combination of the two.

3. Create a written goal. (Be sure to state it aloud when the panel begins.) Some examples:

  • Our goal is to better understand what makes Puget Sound so special.
  • Our purpose is to explore how several cities have increased transportation options.

4. Craft an agenda that includes one kick-off question you will ask ALL panelists.

5. Prepare the panelists. Share the goal and kick-off question, provide time limits, and be very pointed in what you want each to accomplish.

6. Ensure all technology works and the panelists are visible to everyone.

7. Begin and end on time and manage time throughout.

Tips for Panelists

1. Ask who the attendees are. What is their experience and level of expertise? What do they want to know? Why is this panel being given?

2. Review the agenda, the panel goal, and any questions the moderator has gathered. Ask yourself how you can best achieve the panel’s purpose.

3. Research the expertise of your fellow panelists. What questions do YOU have for them? How can you build on what they say?

4. Practice. DON’T allow the event to be the first time these words have come out of your mouth, or the first time you’ve used the technology.

5. Highlight lessons from your own experience. Connect those to the audience’s interests and needs. Examples:

  • How we got 3,500 people to participate in our annual fund drive…
  • What were the most important 3 steps we took to accomplish…
  • Mistakes we made; things NOT to do…

6. Sit tall and speak directly to the audience, even when answering an individual’s question.

7. Be ready and eager to learn. Don’t be a blowhard, but allow your passion to shine.

Done right, panels can be incredibly rich with interest, learning and fun–a memorable experience instead of the lazy way out.



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