Before presenting the art of organizing a top-notch panel discussion, let me remind the essence of panel sessions: they are an exchange of ideas among group of experts in front of the audience. A panel can be held around political, academic topics, may concern community issues and more.
Event organizers should keep in mind that the meeting is for the audience, first and foremost. Format the discussion to keep the attendees engaged at all times and leave a room for them to participate.

1.Know your audience

Panel sessions are not for panelists, but for the audience. One of the important factors to make sure that the discussion is interesting to attendees is to know them better and tailor the content of the meeting to their needs. For that, event organizers can use a live polling app, such as Swift Polling, at the beginning of the session to conduct online polls. Based on the real-time results, organizers can identify the attendees’ background and other relevant information.

For this case, the word cloud generator can be a great solution. For example, to observe in what fields the attendees are working or studying, organizers can create word clouds through Swift and ask the audience to vote by text or online.

2.Conduct Q&A sessions early

Usually, organizers hold Q&A at the end of a panel discussion. However, the traditional way of conducting Q&A sessions has many drawbacks:

  • Very little time remains for the audience to ask questions and submit their feedback.
  • At the end of the event, some attendees feel tired and have lost interest.
  • Many members from the audience have questions, however, not all of them feel comfortable to raise their hands and ask.
    Organizers should review in detail and democratize the Q&A of a top-notch panel discussion.

    First, let the audience ask questions earlier in the event. The moderator can even crowdsource questions before panelists start to talk and kick off the discussion with the best questions.

    With the help of a live polling app, organizers can democratize the process by allowing all the attendees to submit their questions by text or web. Swift Polling enables the host to “star” the questions which a moderator will find most important or relevant to discuss.

    3.Let the audience to sum up the session

    According to the peak-end rule people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience. So the end of part a top-notch panel discussion should engage and impress the attendees too.

    Again, a live polling app can be a great solution: The audience can express their opinion on the overall meeting by voting by text or online. Moreover, organizers can turn the end of the meeting into a contest by creating an online poll and asking the attendees to vote for a panelist whose responses they liked most. Based on the real-time results, the winner can be identified and get a symbolic gift.

    As a word cloud generator can also display the audience’s impression of the event. Ask attendees to describe the panel discussion in one or two words. Repetitive responses will be shown larger and in another color indicating the opinion of the majority.
    Rules are created to protect the status quo,  not to spur innovation. So don’t afraid to go beyond the set standards of organizing panel sessions and make the best use of the listed ideas to have a top-notch panel discussion.

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