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How to Moderate a Panel Discussion: Definition of a Panel (Video #1, 4mins)



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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.