Panel Session Checklist

To make your next panel session go correctly, what you need is a checklist
To make your next panel session go correctly, what you need is a checklist
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I don’t know about you, but my life is ruled by checklists. What this means is that once I’ve done something once and figured out the steps that are involved in doing it, I’ll make a checklist so that the next time that I do it I won’t forget anything. As speakers there are times that we are asked to use our speaking skills host a panel session. Panels have a lot of moving parts associated with them and clearly this calls for a checklist…

6 Item That Must Be On Your Next Panel Checklist

On top of the importance of public speaking, the biggest challenge that running a panel poses for a public speaker is the simple fact that this task is much different from getting ready to give a speech. Instead, there are a lot of different moving parts that you now need to get all lined up. There is no way that you are going to be able to accomplish this if you don’t make sure that you’ve done everything that you need to do. That’s exactly where a checklist comes into play.

Here’s what needs to be on your checklist when you are in charge of running your next panel session:

  1. Get There Early: As speakers we all know the value of arriving at the place where we’ll be speaking long before it’s time for us to go on stage. It turns out that the same advice applies to running a panel session: get there early. Instead of having to make sure that everything is right for you, now you have to make sure that everything will be right for your panel members. Do they have water? Is their name clearly displayed on a card where they’ll be sitting? Do their microphones work?
  2. Brief Your Panel Members: Nobody does a good job of remembering things these days. Take the time roughly a half an hour before the big event to sit down with your panel members and go over your agenda one final time. Make sure that they know what you’re looking to get out of them during the panel session.
  3. Watch Your Time: Let’s face it, while the panel is in session, you are probably going to do a lousy job of keeping track of time. The reason for this is very simple – you’ve got a lot of other things on your mind. What this means is that it would be very helpful if you could get a friend or colleague to agree to help you out and act as timer. Let them signal you when the opening remarks should be done and when it’s time to start to do the wrap up.
  4. Start On Time: This may sound rather silly, but trust me on this one. If you are going to want to make sure that the members of your panel have the time that they are going to need to get their points across, then you are going to have to maximize the amount of time that you provide them with. Tell everyone in the room to sit down a couple of minutes before the scheduled start time and then make sure to start at the appropriate time.
  5. End On Time: Unlike when you are giving a speech, wrapping up a panel session takes some careful skill. Because there are so many different moving parts, you need to start to wrap things up long before the end. Make sure that the final sets of questions have been asked by the audience and if you can finish just a minute or two early then your audience will have time to talk with the members of your panel before they have to be somewhere else.
  6. Do A Good Follow-Up: Once the event is over, take the time to send a thank you note to everyone who both participated on your panel and helped you to set things up. Sometime in the future you’ll probably be asked to do this again and if you make sure that everyone that helped you out this time feels appreciated, then you’ll have a good chance of getting them to help you next time!

What All Of This Means For You

Panel sessions provide the benefits of public speaking by getting experts on a given topic all in the same place so that they can share their views of what is going on. As a speaker, we often get asked to run the panel session. In order to make sure that you don’t forget to do anything, a checklist can be your best friend.

Your panel checklist needs to include getting to the session early, briefing your panel members, watching the time, starting and ending on time, and making sure that you follow up after the panel session is over.

Panel sessions can provide your audience with a great deal of information in a very short period of time. If you can make sure that everything that has to happen, happens then it will all turn out well. Scuba divers say “plan your dive and dive your plan.” You need to plan your panel using a checklist and then follow your checklist in order to deliver the best panel possible.

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

Question For You: If the panel session gets involved in a heated debate and the end of time arrives, what’s the best way to wrap things up?

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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 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

A really good jamming device. That’s what most speakers would like to bring to their next speech. That way their audience couldn’t forget about the importance of public speaking and instead spend their time texting and tweeting instead of listening to them. However, we do live in the 21st Century and so distractions are almost a way of life. What can we do as speakers to grab and hold on to our audience’s attention?