The Energizer

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Five Reasons Panels At Meetings FAIL

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Saturday, March 22, 2014
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Some of the key findings from a recent survey on panels by colleague and fellow facilitator Kristin Arnold include:
  • Panels are pervasive. The panel format is widely used at meetings. Ninety-nine percent of respondents have seen a panel format during a meeting in the past 12 months.
  • Panels are a lazy format. The panel format is considered to be a relatively easy format to produce: the meeting planner picks the topic, finds a moderator, selects the panelists and then moves on to more important aspects of the meeting. Unfortunately, the audience sees this lack of attention and doesn't enter into the panel space with high hopes.
  • Format needs to be updated. The traditional, boring panel format needs to be reinvigorated to engage and entertain today's audiences.
  • Skilled facilitation is key to panel success. There is a high degree of correlation between the effectiveness of the moderator and the effectiveness of the panel in achieving the outcomes. Having a skilled facilitator as the moderator is your best insurance policy to creating a successful panel session.
  • Choose moderators wisely. A company official might not be the wise choice at bringing out the best in panelists. The biggest "pet peeve" is having a poor moderator, with out-of-control panelists following close behind. This makes perfect sense - when you have a skilled moderator, then the panelists will be less likely to get out of control. Yet when you have a lousy moderator, even brilliant panelists can get out of control or miss the mark.
I will add one more: plenty of pre-work.  If possible, we get potential questions in advance from the representative audience. I interview and talk to all a panelists before hand.  This creates a level of comfort between us. I highlight that this will be a conversation and not a presentation. If possible, I assemble the panelists beforehand, in either a breakfast or dinner meeting so they are comfortable with each other.  Lastly, we create a living room set on the stage and I often will move from the stage to be part of the audience and field their questions to the panelists. To find out more please call me at 949-496-8640 to discuss!

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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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