As you grow in your career, you might start getting opportunities to be a panelist at a conference or event. And if you get the chance, being a panelist is a fantastic opportunity to show you leadership and communication skills.
But just as being a great public speaker or presenter takes effort, so does becoming a great panelist! So, be mindful of these tips and practice them the next time you are invited to speak on a panel. Being a panelist is a way to show your leadership and communication skills while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.
12 Tips to Be an Effective Panelist
Know the audience:
Who’s going to be there? Consider why they’re there, what their background is and what they might be hoping to get from the conference or event. If you know what they’re looking for, you can address it directly and provide value for them.
Understand your role:
Why were you invited to be part of the panel? When you understand your unique role what specific knowledge or expertise you bring to the panel, then you are better able to prepare for a valuable conversation.
Have a goal in mind:
Most people instinctively create an outline or have a goal for a presentation—and it’s the same for a panel. Think about what you want to achieve and make that your goal. It could be showing yourself as an expert, highlighting what your company is doing, or being an agent for change.
Stick to your message:
Panelists that go on and on are annoying and feel like a waste of time to the audience. So be concise and consistent with your message; it’s okay to pass on a question that isn’t in your area of expertise!
Deliver your content through stories:
If you want to be memorable, tell stories! It’s easy for people to connect with stories and people will remember them long after the panel is done. When you’re considering what you want to share, think about it through a storytelling lens—what happened, who you impacted, and what lessons you learned.
Be “on” the moment you walk on stage:
As a panelist, you’re having a conversation with the other panelists, but don’t get so caught up in it that you forget you’re in front of an audience! Pay attention to your body language and how you are presenting yourself to the room.
Begin with an attention grabber:
You’ll typically already know what the opening questions are, so prepare for it by thinking about something memorable. When you are asked to introduce yourself, for example, insert a story or interesting fact to grab attention.
Remember it’s all about the audience:
You can bring the audience into the conversation by asking for a show of hands or asking rhetorical questions to engage them in what’s going on up on the stage.
Keep it plain, simple, and short:
Ruthlessly cut out your industry jargon and acronyms when speaking. Assume people in the audience don’t know these things and keep your answers short and simple.
Listen to the other panelists:
Instead of trying to anticipate what your answer will be, you’ve got to stay engaged in the conversation with other panelists and feed off their responses.
Keep the energy up:
When panels happen around lunch time, the energy of the room can be very low. So, stay focused on your energy and try to keep it up as much as possible.
Mind your body language:
Think about how you’re presenting yourself to the audience—smiling, open body language, gestures, posture, and confidence all show that you are engaged, knowledgeable, and happy to be there.
Incorporate these 12 tips into your next panelist experience and you’re sure to keep getting more opportunities. The more you practice them, the better panelist you will become. Take the opportunity to show your leadership and communication skills and level up your career opportunities.