Elements of a Successful Panel Discussion

Make sure attendees are learning and interacting during panel discussions.

Panel discussions are an important part of many conferences and Educate meetings. The discussions should be informative, interactive and thought-provoking. Make sure attendees get the most out of a panel session by focusing on these essential elements and incorporating these tips:

  • Appropriate setup. Place roomy, soft seating on an elevated stage so panelists are comfortable and can be seen by the audience. Also, ensure that the stage is lit properly and that each panelist has access to a microphone.
  • Moderator. Select someone familiar with the industry or topic at hand to moderate the panel discussion. This person can gather questions submitted beforehand, as well as in real-time from social media or audience members. The moderator also should feel comfortable interjecting when necessary to keep panelists on topic and the session within time constraints.
  • Time limit. Put a cap on the session’s length to keep panelists and attendees focused on the pertinent discussion topics.
  • Panelist introduction. The moderator should be prepared to introduce the panelists, giving their names, job titles, company names and industry expertise and highlighting any special projects the panelists have been involved with that are relevant to the discussion. This will help attendees engage more thoughtfully with the panelists.
  • Audience engagement. For attendees to feel invested in the session, they should be able to ask questions from the audience or via social media throughout the discussion.