How to Plan a Panel Discussion?

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: February 04, 2022

How to Plan a Panel Discussion?

Many conferences incorporate panel discussions, but there are many factors to take into account to create a worthwhile session. Break the pattern and shake up your panel with these expert suggestions and by seeking guidance for unique layouts and furniture selections from real-life events.

There are a lot of things that need to be thought about and rehearsed ahead of schedule for a panel discussion to appear effortless.

Panel discussions now have the power to become one of the event's delights. They draw together such a diverse group of academics and experts with a similar knowledge of the subject, allowing a venue for intellectual debate and conversation. Consequently, setting forth a good panel is considered among the most significant tasks on your conference planning to-do list.

A panel discussion should never be used as a temporary distraction, a convenient choice, or something that is anticipated. Consider everything you want to get out of this section of the program and how it integrates into the bigger context of the day.

If you only have a small window of time and anticipate it to be squeezed, even more, it could be beneficial to consider diverse methods to spend it. So, without further ado, here's what you should ponder while scheduling an intriguing panel discussion.

What is the purpose of a panel discussion?

Nothing should ever be done purely because it is customary. If you approach a panel with that perspective, the crowd will only turn up because they feel compelled to. If you're passionate about the panel, you'll have an easier route engaging attendees and creating buzz.

Assess the aims of the discussion panel. What does it do to assist your conference, organisation, or body of study achieve the overall aims? What can potential attendees and speakers stand to gain by participating in it? Is a panel discussion the best way to get the results that everyone wants?

First, decide who would be on the panel and who will be in participants. Without participation, a panel discussion is futile. It can be hard to find the appropriate people. You'll almost certainly need to fill the following positions.

The Moderator

The secret to a successful panel discussion is appointing an outstanding moderator. The moderator would be in control of time management by making sure your guests do not go on digressions or dominate over the discussion. As a result, they'll need to be skilled at gracefully interrupting guests who surpass their timeframe and redirecting the discussion back to the preceding point.

Determine whether the matter is a specialty field that requires existing experience or if a moderator with a balanced point of view might be advantageous. Depending on the requirements and prominence of your panel, multiple people may be engaged in the discussion planning and facilitating.

The Crowd

Some panels actually happen in limited, invite-only conversation rooms, while some are significant events on the event agenda. If the panel is available to the general public, you'll have to occupy the audience seats exactly as much as the seats up front. A small crowd ruins the ambience, while a packed venue with no standing room will leave disappointed attendees in the corridors. As a consequence, promote your panel and brace for demand ahead of time.

The estimated size of your audiences will determine the format and interaction techniques you have. If you have a small gathering, you may be able to personally introduce everyone to encourage later dialogue. However, if you're working with a larger population, you'll need to use alternative tactics to encourage participation.

The Experts on the Panel

Which researchers and professionals are you going to welcome to participate in your panel? The combination of panellists might result in a captivating and intellectually stimulating conversation. It can, however, lead to actual intellectual conflict. To produce high-quality insights and amicable debate, consider what each individual brings to the discussion and how their perspectives and characteristics might overlap. Determine whether the panellists will represent a broad set of your audience. Make sure people participating are germane to the subject and have a range of viewpoints. So, if at all practicable, include guests from a range of countries, vocations, and lifestyles, and stay away from the all-male panel.

When can you give time for inquiries?

The best panel duration would be about one hour, accompanied by a 20-30 minute public q&a session. Nevertheless, depending on your purposes, the structure and duration of your panel may alter. The following are some examples of panel formats:

Q&A Format

Introduce the panel with a quick summary of the subject and the panellists. After that, the moderator will select questions, apart for audience questions, and a concluding summation.

Panel of initial remarks

Launch the discussion by introducing each panellist and their perspectives on the issue. Afterwards, there'll be handpicked queries, a brief audience Q&A, and a wrap-up summary.

Style of presentation

Offer the panel a much more structured style by providing each panellist unhindered time to speak on their thoughts and/or study. After that, there'll be a brief Q&A session. If you're organising a research conference, suggest that panellists post abstracts of their papers in advance because then your crowd can prepare questions. If the audience is large, you might want to explore other forms of interaction, including such as letting them pose questions for the panel ahead of schedule through social media.

One also can advocate live-tweeting to increase participation. 

On the big day, how should everything be?

In the broad scheme of things, technicalities can seem insignificant, particularly surrounding your panel discussion stage setup. Nevertheless, don't put things off until the last minute. How the participants are placed, the materials available to them and the public, and the room's overall theme can all influence the flow of your panel.

How do you want the panellists to be given a seat? Would the moderator accompany guests at a table or in a bunch of seats? 

The couch can provide stylistic flair to the staging and generate a more relaxed atmosphere that encourages open dialogue. Suppose you're using low chairs or a table that doesn't have a modesty cover. It's a good idea to let your panellists know well in advance so they can prepare their attire.

If you're addressing a big number, you would like to consider the room's audio and vantage points. Exactly what sort of microphones will you have? Panellists can move one around as they participate if the panel is established in a presentation style. A good and compelling panel is really just the start. Evaluate how you might involve participants on a profound level if you really want to get the most out of the time you have. Being inventive with your panel discussion in subtle ways could help it strike out as a convention highlight.

Throwable mics are a convenient and straightforward technique to make the occasion more entertaining and interactive for all participants. You may even use social media to stimulate audience engagement or amaze them with an interactive activity on their devices. 

Encourage your participants and panellists to continue the conversation online after the panel has ended using the internet.



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Resurchify is an information portal for the people pursuing research. We bring to you a varied list of research gatherings like conferences, journals, meetings, symposiums, etc across multiple areas. Along with that, we also share a huge chunk of details of these events.

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