On a recent #astdchapters leader chat, I went off on my usual rant about panel discussions. I don’t like panel presentations. Many professional associations over rely on this programming approach; it’s lazy. Most panels are haphazard collections of too many members and a moderator with little or no preparation. The end result is a non-cohesive program that leaves us scratching our heads, “just what was all that about?” For me, a single or co-presenter program is the best approach for learning. Conferences use the single/co-presenter approach for sessions. When was the last time you saw a general session with a panel?
Panels can work with expert moderation and a small number, four or less. [Side note – attended SoCon11, 90-minute discussion with six panelists (seven were scheduled) with Q&A, see my earlier thoughts here] The moderator must organize the panelists well before the presentation date; outline the topic, program objectives and how it relates to the audience; identify three/four points; coordinate and collaborate on these points and set time limits and cues. The moderator must to step in and control since he/she is the audience advocate.
If you must here’s some suggestions for panels:
- Have each panelist give a petcha kucha presentation (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide)
- Have each panelist prepare and deliver an elevator pitch
- Have each panelist create a haiku or limerick
Be creative, have a forceful, expert moderator. Insist that the panelists to have some skin in the game, be prepared and perform.