The Best Way to Open a Panel Discussion – Expert Advice

If you are a leader, manager, executive, professional speaker, Toastmaster, or ambitious professional, most likely you will have the opportunity to moderate a panel.

If you believe there is nothing duller than a bad speech, may I suggest a dull panel is even worst? As with any great presentation, when opening a panel discussion, the moderator has the responsibility to set the tone.

Opening with a short, relevant story often fits the bill!                           How to Moderate a Panel Effectively

These three techniques will help you turn a simple story into a great way to set the tone for your panel.Newsletter Covers

Think chronologically.

Use shorter sentences or phrases.

Consider each visual scene.

One January, Mark, a district sales manager from a biotech company, was preparing to moderate a panel at the Las Vegas National Sales Meeting. He was nervous about his new role in front of the 100-person audience. In our pre-coaching communications, I noticed his email signature line included a quote about “moving fast.”

He explained, “In my new role I am “moving fast” to understand new products, clients, and products. This panel’s task is to encourage the audience of colleagues to embrace new jobs in different areas. When they accept the challenge they will have to move fast to get up to speed.”

Mark did not have any idea how to set the tone for the meeting. I asked, “What experience do you have with Las Vegas?”

Mark said, “After last year’s sales meeting, my wife Tammy came in for the weekend. We went to see David Copperfield, and he made her disappear.” As an executive speech coach, this is just what I was looking for.

The Frippnotized version was very easy for Mark to remember, and it incorporated the three techniques.

Expert Advice: I recommend that you write your script with one short sentence or phrase going down the page not across as in a paragraph. In your rehearsal, this makes it easier for you to internalize.

“After last year’s sales meeting,

my wife Tammy came in for the weekend.

We went to see David Copperfield’s magic show.

Three-quarters of the way through his performance, Copperfield threw two dozen balls into the audience.

Patricia Fripp moderating a panel. She can teach you how.

Tammy caught one.

David said, “If you touched a ball, please come on the stage.”

He seated 24 people on bleachers and covered them with a tarp.

Whoosh! Five seconds later, they were gone!

Suddenly they appeared at the back of the room.

On the way out I asked Tammy, “How did he do it?”

She said, “We are sworn to secrecy. However, we did have to move really fast!”

Remember, the sales meeting was in Las Vegas, and Mark’s theme incorporated the importance of moving fast.

He said, “The panel was a wild success, and everyone raved about my opening story!”

If you find yourself with the opportunity to moderate a panel. I challenge you to find a short relevant story to set the tone.

How to Moderate a Panel Effectively download Patricia Fripp’s special report.

Would you like Patricia Fripp as your personal speech coach 24/7?Fripp Virtual Training

“I wanted a super bowl-quality coach, and I was lucky to be introduced to Patricia Fripp. Her help in coaching and scripting was world-class. With Patricia Fripp on your team, you can go places.”
– Don Yaeger, Long-Time Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated magazine, Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, New York Times Best-Selling Author

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Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with individuals and companies who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.