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Article: Crafting Engaging Panel Discussions

April 25, 2023
By Mostafa Saad

Panel discussions planning requires a lot of time and effort to bring all the pieces together.

A Comprehensive Guide for Absolute Newbies

Conquering Challenges with Confidence and Curiosity

Panel discussions are excellent opportunities for dynamic exchanges and invaluable ideas, which can bring academics and professionals that offer unique access to their experiences and insights. Although behind the scenes, it takes work to create, bring together and manage, in case you are moderating. This article is a guide to creating a successful panel discussion that appeals to both panellists and audience members.

Define purpose and objectives.

A well-crafted design serves as the initial stride toward achieving the target. To set your goals and intents, you must inquire about several queries, such as the message you intend to convey, the knowledge you aspire to impart to your audience and the results you wish to accomplish. These questions are fundamental in determining the purpose and objectives.

Ask more questions!

After you got the objectives handled and you got a view of an initial plan, more questions are ahead of you. What are the main topics and subtopics of the conversation? What format would the discussion be in? Is it a discussion? Or presentation? Or a hybrid version? How long would it be? Is there any time for open reflection? Activities? Polling? Its numerous details, but it is essential to go that far before the next steps. A well-chosen format will help create a conducive environment for meaningful dialogue.

The panel

Selecting the panel is the primary task over here. First, check your pre-set questions about the topics to discuss, and start marking potential names from your contact list. Since you are planning an event, you are probably familiar with potential panellists. Also, a good strategy here is to use social media to have more potential candidates. Gather a broad spectrum of experts that can be both scholarly individuals and practicing professionals with varied experiences and backgrounds. Dream big and dare to invite the biggest stars in the field. It's always a good idea to try.


Be organized and start communication. It might be very overwhelming and challenging to have all the information about your event beforehand. However, the more you know, the more your communication with your panel will be effective. The significant points are location, timing, topics, objectives and expected audience. A clear and concise format for your communication email is vital to receiving positive replies from your potential panellists. Equip them with essential context, practical particulars, and direction concerning their duties and obligations. By doing so, they will be better equipped in advance to participate in the conversation actively. But sometimes, you must accept no answers and be ready for plan B.


So, a few days are ahead before your panel, and you have been keeping your panellists updated with more information before the event. Here comes the time to prepare your in-session questions. Compile a list of questions that can relate to each panellist's expertise and try to dig deep into details about the biographies of your panellists, and correlate good questions with the right panellist. Include open-ended inquiries that motivate the panellists to divulge their perspectives, knowledge, and beliefs. Providing these questions to the panellists in advance grants them sufficient time to devise thoughtful answers.

Final touches

Very close to the big day! It's time to make sure you put in the final touches to ensure the space reflects your desired format. Try to create a layout of the surrounding environment that promotes easy communication and social engagement. To prevent technical issues during the occasion, it is advised to check all equipment beforehand. Make sure to meet with your panellists before the panel discussion by enough time and go through what will happen, how long they have per each question and the flow of discussion.

Moderate Smartly

As the moderator, you play a crucial role in directing the dialogue, maintaining its focus, and ensuring that every panellist has an equal chance to participate. Start the conversation by presenting the panel members and establishing the framework for the discourse. Encourage dialogue among panellists by posing open-ended inquiries and prompting them to comment on each other's answers.

Remember your audience and the summary.

Make sure to dedicate time to your audience. Based on your session design, allow time for your audience in person and virtually to ask questions and give comments. Also, include audience engagement tools like live polls or social media to collect questions and comments. This leads to a more interactive and engaging experience for attendees. Once you reach the end of the discussion, make sure to allow a few minutes so you can deliver a summary of the session, and you can provide your concluding thoughts. Make sure to thank your panellists and co-organizers and your audience.

By taking these steps, you can orchestrate a great panel discussion that engages the panellists and the attendees, encourages significant conversation, and accomplishes your intended objectives. Your panel discussion will be a chance to exchange ideas and brainstorm thoughts and a great accomplishment that shows your skills.

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