7 Tips That Will Make You A Terrific Panelist

The only thing sadder than a boring speech is a flat panel discussion, where the agony is compounded by the number of bad panelists.

We’re accustomed to preparing carefully for a great speech, but when it comes to assisting on panels, it’s alluring to just “wing it.” But that does an extreme disservice to the public. Being a great panelist is about more than simply showing up and replying to questions. It requires planning and preparation.

Here are seven ideas you can use to make sure that you hold up your end of the panel discussion agreement.

1. Know Your Audience

As with a speech, the better you know your audience, the more relevant your contribution will be. So work with the moderator to understand the context of the event, who the audience is, and what they know about the topic.

2. Understand Your Role

You’re just one piece of the puzzle; make sure you understand how you fit in. Why were you invited? What specific perspective does the moderator hope you can add. Look at the other panelists. What can you contribute that they can’t, and vice-versa?

3. Have a Goal

Be strategic. Go into the panel discussion with a specific goal in mind. Do you want to:

  • Solve a particular problem the audience has?
  • Showcase your expertise or your organization’s capabilities?
  • Challenge conventional wisdom?

4. Stick to Your Messages

Taken together, your remarks should amount to more than a bunch of disjointed responses to questions—they should tell a cohesive story. So boil down your content to a few key messages. Thread them through your commentary and find a way to pivot back to them.

5. Prepare Stories

Stories resonate like nothing else. If you want to be remembered and you want your ideas to stick, few things beat a well-told story. Come prepared with anecdotes, examples and stories that capture your points.

6. Listen to the Other Panelists

When the other panelists are talking, don’t just spend that time rehearsing your next bon mot. Listen to what they have to say and extend the conversation. Refer to points a fellow panelist has made and build on them (or point out areas where you respectfully disagree). This makes for a more fluid and engaging discussion.

7. Keep Your Energy Up

Of course, keeping your energy up is essential, especially if you’re stuck in the typical panel setup—seated behind a table. A table creates a literal and figurative barrier between the panel and the audience. The best panels I’ve seen ditch the table and use stools instead of chairs. Ask about the set-up in advance and see if the organizers are willing to make this adjustment.

Article Source: speakermagazine

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