4 Goals for a great panel discussion

Last week, I had the pleasure to attend a great session with noted speaking authority Bart Queen. The session was titled, “The Power of Many” and it included 4 communication goals and tons of other great tips on how to drive your message through the use of panel discussions. Here are my favorite highlights:
When to use a panel discussion
Panel discussions are excellent for addressing topic areas that are too complex for one individual to cover, and they can provide a rich experience for the audience because each panelist brings their own perspective to the topic at hand. Ideally, the moderator can highlight those perspectives and stay focused on the agenda, enable each panelist to shine and keep it all compelling for the audience.
Know the Audience and Plan Well
Like most things, the ability to be compelling is dependent on good planning and on knowing the audience, so be sure to think through the objective in advance and plan accordingly. Key questions to keep in mind include:
Use The 4 Strategic Communicator Goals
  1. Build trust
    People buy trust first. If you gain someone’s trust, they listen to you. It’s that simple. But it’s easier said than done, of course. So figure out how the moderator and the panel will earn the audience’s trust, and once gained, safeguard it because that’s the first and most important goal.
  2. Build relationship
    Also, people buy from people they like. The key here is to establish a relationship between the panel and the audience. A great way is to get the panel to share stories and personal experiences that enable the audience to start thinking “me too,” so they can relate to the panel and to the topic at hand.
  3. Build engagement
    Once there’s a relationship and there’s trust, you’ve created an environment where the audience can start getting the feeling "I need you." Aim for that feeling, and be mindful to keep the content accessible to enable the engagement. Do that by keeping it organized in 5-minute segments - that duration correlates to typical adult attention spans. (Who knew??)

    My thought here as a marketer is that if getting to "I need you" is too tall an order for one panel discussion, then I need to think about how I prompt them for the next action so the engagement endures and the trust and relationship become "I need you" when it's right for the customer. It's all about the follow up.
  4. Educate / Entertain
    The ideal panel strikes a balance between educating and entertaining because a purely educational session with no entertainment (in most business situations) will inhibit the relationship and engagement that creates the memorable experience you’re after.
You can learn more about this and other speaking topics by visiting Bart's Site. As always, thanks for your time and attention. Let me know what you think.

About Author

John Balla

Principal Marketing Strategist

Hi, I'm John Balla - a Digital Marketing Principal here at SAS focused on Content Strategy. I co-founded the SAS Customer Intelligence blog and served as Editor for five years. I like to find and share content and experiences that open doors, answer questions and maybe even challenge assumptions so better questions can be asked. Outside of work I stay busy with my wife and I keeping up with my 2 awesome college-age kids, volunteering for the Boy Scouts, keeping my garden green, striving for green living, expressing myself with puns, and making my own café con leche every morning. I’ve lived and worked on 3 contents and can communicate fluently in Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian and passable English. Prior to SAS, my experience in marketing ranges from Fortune 100 companies to co-founding two start ups. I studied economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and got an MBA from Georgetown. Follow me on Twitter. Connect with me on LinkedIn.


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