Reinventing Panel Discussions

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Redstone is looking forward to learning more about panel formats and education sessions at IncentiveWorks and the Connect Marketplace Conference which we will be attending this month. We have been experimenting with, and seeing new formats over the past few months that have discussed how to reinvent the way panel discussions are delivered at events. Here are a few key takeaways to transform boring panels into memorable discussions:

Introductions

Starting off your panel strong can set the tone for the rest of the presentation. Long, drawn-out biographies, going through the ins and outs of each panelist’s career only consumes valuable time and is a quick way to lose your audience. Directing your attendees to a mobile app, printed program or event website where the speaker’s biography is listed is a more effective way of sharing your panelists accomplishments. That is not to say that speakers do not need an introduction. Introductions provide credibility and context – but the shorter, the better! Try a quick 15-second, three-sentence introduction, sharing only the important facts.

Staging/AV

Reinventing your panel discussion can be as simple as removing the table in front of your speakers. It not only acts as a barrier between your speakers and the audience, but it fosters a more inviting atmosphere. Tub chairs, bar stools, director’s chairs and couches can all be used in place of the boring draped table and standard chairs. Try dressing the stage with a rug, some plants and a coffee table. Believe it or not, the right furniture can create a more intimate environment, which can help to facilitate a better, more exciting discussion.

Formats

Panel discussions typically follow a pretty standard format, which can leave your audience feeling bored and uninspired. Here are a few interesting panel formats to spice up any presentation:

  • “American Idol” – your panelists or “experts” are seated with their backs to the audience and selected participants are invited to the stage to ask for advice, make a pitch or discuss a specific topic.
  • Talk Show – copy your favourite talk show’s format, including recurring segments, seating arrangements, branding, etc.
  • Town Halls or Debates – the stage is set like a typical political debate or town hall. This is an interesting way to jazz up any topic.

The next time you are tasked with coordinating a panel for your upcoming event, refer to the tips and tricks above to transform your session into an exciting, engaging discussion. Check out some other industry tips and tricks we offer on our blog here.

Redstone will be at the Connect Marketplace Conference in Salt Lake City from August 23-25. Stay tuned to hear more about what we learn!

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