Prepare for a panel discussion: Moderator’s email to panellists

Penny Haslam Panel Discussions - The Ultimate Guide - By Penny Haslam

Prepare for a panel discussion: Moderator's email to panellists

Prepare for a panel discussion. Before the panel I will get in touch with the panellists with this email advice:  

Dear (Panellists)

We’re getting near to our panel discussion about thingy on date, so I thought I’d get in touch with some suggestions to help you prepare great things to say. 

 And there’s just one easy ‘actionable’ that you can help me out with, if that’s OK – see below.

So, first and foremost - the aim for us on date is to ‘put on a good show’ for the audience and serve them well with information, inspiration and practical take-home stuff they can actually think about and use. 

 You can really help with that by:

  1. Noting the limited amount of time in which you have to get your points across, with impact! We are four panellists and one chair, with one hour, so your total ‘airtime’ is pretty much just 12 mins each (included answering audience questions). Please get to your point with punch!
  2. Have front of mind some pithy real-world examples about ‘a time when…’ or ‘a business that…’ or ‘a leader who…’. And craft these examples so you can tell them in a few sentences. Otherwise, panellists tend to speak in broad terms ‘we should all be thinking about’ or ‘we need to do more to…’ – which isn’t memorable or helpful/practical for the audience.
  3. Don’t wait to be spoken to or asked a question. Jump in – it’s a discussion not a series of interviews.
  4. Don’t be too nice with (time wasting) phrases like ‘I completely agree with what X has just said’. Audiences want some spice and edge, so please have a point of difference.
  5. Be human, personable, warm. Smile, look interested, nod, frown, laugh – essentially, this is an on-camera performance essentially and our ‘face in repose’ should be saved for everyday zoom meetings!

Actionable - Your introduction: 

Please write your introduction based on the following format. It will mean I can introduce you really quickly, accurately and we get to the discussion sooner.

It doesn’t take long – just fill in the blanks and email me back with it...

“Our next panellist is (job title & organisation). S/he is focused on (something) at the moment and has worked for a range of/has experience of (Some other things). 

S/he is passionate about (A thing relevant to yourwork/the audience/theme of the panel discussion)

Please welcome (Your name)!”

Any questions/problems/concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Thank you in advance and I look forward to seeing you next week/month at the event.

Best wishes

(Your name)


Prepare for a panel discussion: Key points to make in advance to your panellists:

  • Time in a panel discussion is at a premium, get to your point
  • When you speak use pithy real-world examples
  • Don’t wait to be spoken to or asked a question, jump in
  • Don't waste your airtime with pleasantries
  • Be human, personable, warm, smile, look interested

Panel Discussions is the ultimate guide to moderating and appearing on panel discussions. 

  • Prepare for success and drive a dynamic panel discussion, as a moderator.
  • Confidently share your expertise and insight as a relatable and memorable panellist.
  • Engage your audience and speak so people listen, both from the stage and through the camera lens.

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