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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
The Cool Beans Team