5 lessons on moderating panel discussions

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I have had the opportunity of moderating panel discussions for a while. My experience has taught me that there are some best practices that one can use to moderate the panel effectively.



The 5 best practices are

  • A panel discussion is just like a speaking session, it has an opening, body and conclusion. All these three parts have to be stitched together with logical transitions and all this is the primary responsibility of the panel moderator
  • Creating a framework of flow is really helpful as this gives structure to the session
  • A good moderator is someone who is knowledgeable about the subject but sticks to his job of channeling the discussion. His job is not to give his opinion but to drive the discussion based on the responses received from the panelists. The topics for the discussion were in the area of Healthcare and Technology. Though I was knowledgeable in both, I did my best to keep my perspectives in check while I led the panel
  • Speak to the organizers and get very familiar with the audience composition. As I wrote earlier the panel exists because of the audience, this would help you structure the discussion in a way that adds most value. In my case I found out that a lot of the audience were startups in the city of Bangalore, India working in the healthcare space. Also get very familiar with the stage, the organizers, sound systems etc.
  • Meet the panelists, either one on one or all together. This is a key step and it is important to ascertain their speaking styles. I know it is difficult to get everyone on a call together, so I would recommend doing individual calls. Develop a set of questions that would help move the discussion forward

Read the detailed piece on my blog Desi Brand Strategy

These are my ideas for a good discussion, but what about you, do you have any tips on moderating panels ? Would love to hear your ideas too. I am moderating a panel at the Philips Digital Health Conclave, would love to see you there and also use some of your tips for the session.


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