How to get invited on a panel discussion

Penny HaslamPanel Discussions - The Ultimate Guide - By Penny Haslam

How to get invited on a panel discussion video. Unless you want to practice in front of the mirror for evermore, you'll need to actually get on some panels. In this video guide Penny Haslam walks you through chapter 8 of her book with ideas and techniques to find panel discussions to appear on.

Today, we'll be discussing how to get on a panel discussion in the first place, specifically focusing on being panel aware. Simply reading a book on panel discussions won't cut it. To succeed, you must understand the beast. This involves identifying where panel discussions occur within your field, sector, industry, business, and even your region, city, or nearest town. So, as a starting point, ask yourself: Where do panel discussions take place?

About the author
Penny is an award-winning female motivational speaker UK & event host.
She's the author of Panel Discussions - The Ultimate Guide

By Penny Haslam

MD and Founder - Bit Famous

Penny Haslam

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Where do panel discussions take place?

Consider who organises these panels and who attends them. Take note of any recent conferences you've attended that featured panel discussions. Additionally, if you regularly participate in networking events, you may have noticed that panel discussions are occasionally held. Special event days such as International Women's Day or International Stress Awareness Day could also provide opportunities for panel involvement. 

So, recall any instances where you encountered or were informed about panel discussions, and remember to jot them down in your diary. You never know in a year, you might be invited to be a panellist or a moderator at one of those events.

Reach out to event organisers

Now, let's move on to the next step. One effective strategy for getting on a panel in the first place is to make a bold move: reach out to the organisers. Once you have become more panel aware, muster up the courage to contact the organisers directly. 

Send them a short biography detailing your background and explain why you are passionate about the subject, industry topic, issue, or trend related to the panel. If you have recently written a blog post, created a video blog or vlog, or shared a post on the topic, be sure to mention it. These actions help bolster your profile as the ideal candidate for a panel discussion.

The organisers may not immediately get back in touch with you. However, don't be discouraged. This doesn't mean you're not on their radar for future opportunities. The timing may simply be off. In some cases, they may respond and apologise, stating that they're not planning a panel discussion at the moment. In such situations, you can follow up by asking if they can recommend anyone else who might be organising a panel. Be tenacious in your approach. If there's currently no suitable panel that aligns with your area of expertise, inquire if they could keep you in mind for future events. Take the initiative to get in touch and start building your contacts list

What size of panel discussion event should I target?

Let's talk about the size of panel discussions in terms of the audience. Typically, panel discussions accommodate around 3 to 5 people, in addition to the moderator. The overall size of the event doesn't really matter. It could be a small and niche panel discussion with only three attendees, or a large-scale event with an audience of 3,000 people. 

Your approach should be determined by your level of experience. I wouldn't recommend throwing yourself into a large event and expecting the organizers to immediately select you as a panellist. Start by gaining experience and building your confidence. Earn your stripes, so to speak. Take the stage and give it a try.

I remember participating in a panel discussion after a budget announcement in the spring. While I was generally a confident panellist, I felt a bit rusty since the topic was no longer my main focus as a former personal finance journalist. 

I did my homework and prepared thoroughly, but I was still quite nervous. Interestingly, the person sitting next to me, whom I expected to be extremely confident, confessed that she was also feeling extremely anxious. 

It was a mid-sized audience of about 50 to 60 people, and we realised that if either of us made a mistake, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Had the audience been 600 people, they might have chosen different panellists.

So, if you're starting out, it's advisable to begin with smaller events, treating them as learning opportunities and gaining experience. Gradually work your way up.

Another approach you can take is to discreetly gather information by following people on social media. Additionally, you can reach out to individuals directly through calls or emails to inquire about upcoming panel discussions.

Connect with organisers on social media

Connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, and explore platforms like Instagram. Be friendly, and enthusiastic, and show your keen interest. If you have participated in panel discussions and have impressive photos from those events, consider adding them to your LinkedIn profile banner. This will give a quick glimpse to the world, showcasing your capabilities as a great panellist or moderator. Don't leave it to chance; proactively display your experience as a subtle nod. 

Remember, people on LinkedIn and social media tend to remember those who are eager and enthusiastic. This quality holds value when event organisers are looking to curate a lineup of experts who genuinely want to be there. Enthusiasm can go a long way.

Tell colleagues you want to be on panels

Lastly, in this important chapter on how to get on panels in the first place, make it known to others that you aspire to be a panellist. Even if you feel nervous, express your desire to participate in panel discussions. If you are part of a large organisation, inform your colleagues and reach out to the marketing department, press team, or anyone responsible for external affairs inquiries. 

Let them know that you are ready and eager to engage in panels, and attend conferences, seminars, and networking events. Ask them to consider you if any inquiries or opportunities arise. 

It's crucial to keep them informed because personnel can change, and you want to maintain connections with the relevant individuals, even if the junior marketing person may come and go. Building relationships and staying on their radar is essential. To get started, others need to know who you are. Some individuals may express concerns about their credibility, seniority, or expertise when it comes to panel discussions. 

Expertise is not the sole criteria for a panellist

However, the amount of knowledge you possess may not be the sole criteria that panel organisers are seeking. They may value the experiences you bring to the table. For instance, if you're a recent graduate who has participated in an apprenticeship program, your degree in psychology combined with your work in sales could provide unique insights to the audience. 

Similarly, if you're a woman working in engineering or a STEM field, you may stand out and offer valuable perspectives in sectors that traditionally have lower female representation. 

Don't underestimate yourself just because you believe you lack seniority, expertise, or credibility. You likely have something valuable to offer to an audience, and that's what truly matters.

If you run your own business without a dedicated press department, go back to step one, which is becoming panel aware, and actively promote yourself. Inform your friends, family, networks, and associations that you are enthusiastic about participating in panel discussions. Let them know that if they come across any relevant opportunities, you would like to be considered.

I hope this guidance on panel discussions has been helpful. My book is highly practical and widely acclaimed, with numerous great testimonials. I encourage you to get a copy and embark on your journey to join panel discussions. 

Panel Discussions Book - Free Resources

Panel Discussions Book Free Resources