Panel Sessions: 3 Ways To Make Them Successful Before They Start

by drjim on August 26, 2014

Setting up a successful panel session requires planning on your part

Setting up a successful panel session requires planning on your part
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Public speaking takes on many different forms. One of the most challenging types of public speaking that we may be called on is to manage a panel session. Panel sessions are a great way to get experts on some topic together in a single place so that they can share their different views on a given topic. However, because of the dynamic nature of this type of public speaking, things can get out of hand very quickly if you aren’t careful…

3 Ways To Set Up A Successful Panel Session

As with all such things in life, a successful panel session is something that is often determined long before the actual panel session happens. As the person who has been tasked with running the panel session, in order for your audience to experience the benefits of public speaking, you need to make sure that you do all of the pre-work that is going to be required to ensure that this public speaking opportunity turns out the best way possible. This means that there are three things that must be done before the panel session occurs:

  1. Know Your Audience: More often than not, panel sessions occur as a part of a much larger meeting or convention. As the person who will be running the panel session, it is going to be your responsibility to do your homework. Who will be in your audience? What common views or interests do they all share? Your panel session is going to be dealing with a specific topic, how will this audience react to it – anger, joy, interest, or something else?
  2. Pick Panel Participants Pointedly: Who is on your panel is the key to having a successful and interesting panel session. Generally speaking, a panel session includes between 3 to 5 panel participants. You really want to invite the most interesting people to participate: who has an opinion or a position that will attract the largest audience? If it is at all possible, you are going to want to choose the best speakers to be members of your panel – someone with a great idea who can’t express it will do you no good. Finally, you always need to have a backup so make sure that you contact one or two additional people and inform them that they are your backups just in case things take a turn for the worst with one or more of your panel participants.
  3. Reconfirm, Reconfirm, Reconfirm: Life is funny – even when people have agreed to participate in your panel, they can forget or schedule other events at the same time. It is going to be your responsibility to reconfirm their participation multiple times in order to make sure that they actually show up at the right place and at the right time ready to speak. Since you are the one person who understands what you want your panel discussion to accomplish and you know the strengths of each of your panel members, you need to work with each of them to let them know what you want them to talk about. You’ll want to avoid any duplicate talks or talks that run on for too long.

What All Of This Means For You

Sometimes the toughest speaking jobs are the ones where you are not the star. Panel sessions are a great way to get experts on a given topic to come together in order to share their thoughts on a given topic. When you are in charge of setting one of these panel sessions up, you are going to have your hands full trying to make sure that it will be a success.

What you do before the panel session even starts can be the key to how successful the panel turns out to be in the end. In order to capture the importance of public speaking you are going to have to start by making sure that you understand who will be in your audience and what they are going to want to get out of your panel session. Next you are going to have to choose the right people to be on your panel and you’ll have to have a couple of extras as backup just in case something happens to one of your panel members. Finally, you’ll need to reconfirm the event with your panelists just to make sure that there is nothing that gets in the way.

A great speaker can connect with an audience and change the way that they see their world. A well done panel session has the ability to do the very same thing: by presenting all sides of a particular topic, you have a real possibility that you will end up changing your audience’s lives in some way.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How much time should you give to each of your panel members to present their views?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Public speaking takes on many different forms. One of the most challenging types of public speaking that we may be called on is to manage a panel session. Panel sessions are a great way to get experts on some topic together in a single place so that they can share their different views on a given topic. However, because of the dynamic nature of this type of public speaking, things can get out of hand very quickly during the actual panel session if you aren’t careful…

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