How to Actually Moderate a Panel

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Last week, we gave you steps to follow to prepare to lead a panel on any topic. But what do you do in the moment, when you are all sitting on stage?

Here are some tips for managing a panel of speakers:

  • Add energy. The audience will never be as excited as you are, so it is your job as the host to add extra enthusiasm to your introductions and tone. Smile, laugh, and nod along with your participants so the audience knows how to properly engage.

  • Transition for them. Include phrases like, “To summarize,“ to let the audience know when you’re wrapping up.

  • Prepare some lines in advance. Have information about how to reach your panelists on hand to share with the audience. Find a connecting thread for the conversation beforehand so you can have a powerful closing for the audience and a #micdropmoment that they’ll remember.

Now go out there and support your panel- it makes everyone look good!

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

How to Moderate a Panel


What an honor! You’ve been asked to facilitate the discussion between experts on a topic they know best. But, how? When preparing to moderate a panel, you need to keep in mind the main point of the discussion they will have as well as the answers they might give- while keeping in mind that you cannot really control what they say, how long they speak, or even if your participants will show up at all. Never fear! There are some things you can do to help things run as smooth as possible.

  1. Choose the right panel: Find 4-5 experts in the topic you wish to discuss who have something unique to say about the product, idea, or project you are unpacking. Make sure you bring in people with diverse backgrounds who can speak eloquently to the topic.

  2. Understand your format: Your situation will determine the type of panel to conduct. Will each panelist have time to deliver a pre-planned speech? Is the whole presentation in Question and Answer format? Will you give panelists the chance to speak amongst themselves?

  3. Do your research: Understand a lot about each panelist and be prepared to tie in those facts where they fit in the conversation. It builds your credibility and their rapport at the same time!

  4. Follow-up: After all is said and done, don’t forget to send a Thank You note. If you will be holding a similar event that you might want them to speak at in the future, build those relationships early.

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

Can I use notes in my presentation?


It’s a question we are often asked. “Can I use a notecard?“ “How much should I put in my notes?“ “Will I have a script?“

The answer is simple: Yes.

If you get nervous, anxious, or excited during a presentation, you should probably use notes. If you don’t want to forget something, you can use notes. And if you just think it’s the “thing to do,“ that’s okay, you can use notes too.

Your slides aren’t notes. We’ve all sat in a presentation where the speaker did nothing but read the slides. Your audience can read! We at Cool Beans like to think of a powerpoint as a good wingman- it should always support you as the presenter, never distract from you. Leave something to the imagination and keep your slides short and sweet.

Don’t read from your notes. When you look at your notes, don’t speak. As tricky as that can be, it is a lot more enjoyable for an audience to pause with the speaker as they glance down at their notes than it is to watch them read from them. Instead, read your notes when you take a breath in between ideas. Then look up, plant yourself, and start your next sentence with confidence.

Your notes should be “notes to self.“ Keep them personal to keep yourself on track. Instead of writing out your whole speech on cards or paper, jot down the most important parts so you can remember which main points to hit when you glance down quickly. Use a short hand style, specific to you, to make your notes easier to read in a quick amount of time.

Go out there and deliver your presentation on a high note!

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

Adapted from an article shared by MillsWyck Communications

The Best Strategy for Remembering What Comes Next

You’ve heard the phrase before: “It’s just like riding a bike!“

Why do we say it? Because bicycling involves one of the coolest innate evolutionary human skills- muscle memory.

Whether it’s cooking a favorite dish, driving a car you’ve had for years, or playing your favorite sport, there are things we can all do without thinking. The motions are so trained into our bodies that we move without effort and with firm confidence.

That’s why body language is important in speaking. Not only does it help your audience engage with the content, but it helps you deliver it with ease and charisma. Try these tips* for adding deliberate movement into your presentation:

  1. Add gestures to the words that matter most in your presentation. If you want to punch up the numbers, use the same gesture every time you reference that number. That’s where the muscle memory comes in!

  2. Open your arms and chest as early as possible. If you start small, it will be a lot harder to make your gestures warm and inviting later on. Instead, challenge yourself to hit the largest movement in the first sentence, opening your arms and welcoming the audience.

  3. Smile. When in doubt, smiling is the best facial expression to use. Just remember the tone of your presentation!

  4. Make eye contact. People want to listen to those they feel are connecting with them. When you start an idea, look at one person in the room. Once you’ve finished that sentence or thought, move to the next!

  5. Focus on different areas of the room. If you struggle making eye contact with a crowd, pick 3 or 4 spots around the room that are between people’s heads or just above them. Then take turns looking at those spaces to build connection.

  6. Walk in between ideas. Never walk and talk. Instead, take two or three steps in between your ideas or sentences to physically demonstrate a transition and ease the shift in eye contact. Remember to plant and breathe before your next idea!

  7. Practice with the movements. Thinking about them is great, but unless you practice actually doing the gestures you plan, they will be a lot harder to pull off. Practice your presentation using the same movements you want to use on stage to build confidence and lean into that muscle memory power.

Delivery is the trickiest part of giving a presentation. If you want to reach your audience in a dynamic and natural way, book a coaching session and we can help you get ready to rock the room!

Stay cool,
The Cool Beans Team

*Adapted from Business Insider.

8 Slides for the Perfect Pitch Deck

Pitch deck tips can make any presentation better

Pitch deck tips can make any presentation better


Pitching soon? Whether it’s a business idea, sales plan, or project solution, your pitch can decide your next move and gain you valuable supporters. Before you get in front of the room, you need to get a few things in order. Yes, delivery is important. Your confidence sharing the idea you’re an expert in can make or break the speech. But before you get practicing to perfection, your content needs to be curated just right. You know a lot about your idea, and have a lot of information bouncing around that you want to share. How do you decide what needs to go in the pitch deck?

Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about What’s In It For Them: What the audience wants to hear.

Here’s our Cool Beans Content magic formula: 8 / 5 / 30

  • 8 Slides

  • 5 Minutes

  • 30+ Font Size

These are all tricks to keep it short and simple. The fewer slides you use in your powerpoint, the less likely you are to go over the time limit. The larger the font size, the heavier the importance you are likely to place on the words you decide to include in each slide. Following that formula will make your slide deck more persuasive. But what do you actually say on each slide?

Here’s the pattern we follow (Adapted from Guy Kawasaki):

  1. Title Slide

  2. Overview

  3. Innovation/Breakthrough Potential

  4. Feasibility & Sustainability

  5. Social Impact

  6. Scalability

  7. Use of Funds

  8. In Summary

Now that you’ve got an awesome pitch deck, you’re ready to rock that delivery and calm any nerves that creep up before the big day. Book a time with us to make sure you’re ready to rock!

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

One Trick to Make Your Speech Better

Typewriters have a built in pause-o-meter

Typewriters have a built in pause-o-meter


You know your stuff. You’ve got great content and you can’t wait to share it with the world. But no matter how fantastic your idea is, poor delivery can limit your audience’s understanding, and take away from your credibility.

The solution?

Embrace the power of the pause.

Imagine this: You’re typing on an old-school typewriter, and you reach the end of a line, sentence, or idea. What do you do? Shift the paper back. The paper is reset into position, and you’re ready to shift to a new idea. In your presentation, the pause is that shift. By taking your time on the pause, you give your audience enough time to take in what you’ve just said, and give yourself enough time to catch your breath and remember what comes next.

Every time you finish a thought, remember to shift.

Stop talking. Take a breath. Then start the next idea.

(Bonus points if you make the shhhhhing sound!)

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

3 Tips to Get Over Your Fear of Speaking Up

We’ve all been there.

You’re in a meeting that has been going on for hours, and yet doesn’t seem to going anywhere at all. You have the answer, or at least a useful contribution. How do you speak up?

Is talking during a meeting public speaking? You betcha. Use these presentation tips every time you speak publicly- even in a room of your peers.

3 Tips for Speaking up in a Meeting:

  1. Prepare a few bullets in advance. One senior executive we worked with was deathly afraid of public speaking early in her career. In order to overcome that fear, she challenged herself to speak up at every single meeting and prepared comments or questions in advance. That executive is now a role model within her organization and is considered one of the most confident and authentic speakers in her industry. Don’t wait for inspiration to hit in the meeting; prepare in advance.

  2. Ask, “why you?” This is a question we recommend people ask before they craft a presentation, walk into a meeting, or even prepare for a networking event. It means, why do you care about what you do, about your organization, or about your role? Answering this question helps you connect with a sense of purpose and builds your confidence. It reminds you that you’re speaking up not to show off but because you truly care about the subject. It reminds you that your credibility doesn’t come solely from your title or years of experience but can also comes from your commitment and passion.

  3. Pause and breathe to build your confidence. Speaking up in a meeting takes courage. You have the ability to affect the trajectory of the conversation, potentially guiding your client towards saying yes to a deal when your colleagues have taken the meeting off track. Pausing and breathing helps center you and strengthens your voice so that when you do speak up, you speak with the full weight of your conviction. While you pause, ask yourself, “If one other person in this room has the same question, am I willing to ask on behalf of that person?” The answer should build your confidence. A client recently shared that she had used this technique to ask a question — in public — at a large conference, and her question changed the direction of the entire panel discussion, shedding light on a critical issue that the panel had been avoiding.

So what are you waiting for? Go in there and rock the room.

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

Public Speaking is Scary


We get it- speaking in front of a crowd is stressful. Whether you’re delivering a presentation to your boss, leading a meeting, or even giving a speech at your best friend’s wedding, it’s normal to get a bit of stage fright. Here are some tips to get the butterflies in your stomach to fly in formation: 

  1. The week before, highlight the most important words in your presentation and add some deliberate gestures. You can make your point stronger and remember what to say through muscle memory! For example: If you want to highlight that your organization is “Spreading to locations around the globe,” spread your arms out wide to symbolize your reach.

  2. The day before, visualize yourself giving the presentation- perfectly. Our mind is trained to repeat the things we tell ourselves, but doesn’t know how to tell “yes” from “no”. So if you say, “Don’t forget your words.” Guess what your brain hears? Forget ‘em. Instead, keep it positive. Say things like: “Breathe, Smile, Begin.” To get your head in the right place and be ready to rock the stage.

  3. The moment before, your stress will probably be manifesting itself as nervous energy in your body. To release some of the tension, try this exercise: Standing tall, tense up your whole body. Curl your toes, ball your fists, and shrug your shoulders up to your ears. Take a deep breath in. Then, when your exhale, release all of that tension as well. Ah…. Doesn’t that feel better? 

It’s normal to be nervous before giving a speech. With these tips, you can move past the nerves and fall in love with your presentation!

5 Phrases to be More Likeable

Leading a workshop or delivering a presentation is not the end of our social interactions. Before you give a speech, after you follow up with a client, and at networking events before a job interview, we present ourselves all the time. In any conversation, use these quick phrases to build rapport and overall make yourself more likeable to others:

  • “I was just thinking about you!“ If something positive reminds you of someone, tell them!

  • “How about you?“ To avoid awkward silences, turn the self-disclosure questions around.

  • “You are so interesting.“ We all want to be liked. If someone says something interesting, let them know!

  • “Being with you has been so great.“ At the end of a conversation, actually finish the conversation on a positive note.

  • “Last time we talked you mentioned…“ The more you can remember about a person, the more likely they are to trust you- you listened to them!

Focusing on the other person is a great way to rack up brownie points and put your best foot forward before you even get to the front of the room. Get your audience on your side before you present!

These tips were shared with us by Vanessa Van Edwards at the Science of People.

Stay Cool,
The Cool Beans Team

Video Presentation Tips - pt. 2

Last week we talked about some important skills for working through video presentation anxiety. What now? In order to feel more comfortable and prepared for any virtual conversation, make sure you’re set up for success with these tips:

  1. Utilize front-facing lighting: Get that Instagram-influencer-glow by facing the sun when you record, buying a ring light, or even using your phone’s flashlight to add an extra shine.

  2. Angle your camera down: By positioning your camera at eye level (or a bit above), you’ll show off your best angles and be ready to rock.

  3. Make eye contact with the camera (instead of yourself!): While it’s very tempting to watch yourself as you present, focus instead on the tiny pinhead camera at the top of your phone, monitor, or webcam. It will give the illusion of making eye contact with your audience!

  4. Pay just enough attention to your surroundings: Like a good wingman, your recording room should support your presentation, not distract from it. Check your surroundings for anything that could draw the audience’s eye, and make sure you want it to do so.

Break down the barriers that keep us from recording ourselves. You can grow your audience or perfect your speaking style with video!

Just like last week, these tips were borrowed from our friends at BombBomb, the masters of re-humanizing virtual communication.

Stay cool,
The Cool Beans Team