Expert panels and how to host one.

Expert panels and how to host one.

Expert panels are basically question and answer sessions with experts in a certain area. All you need is a small group of experts willing to answer questions about their area and a group of interested people to form the audience. The goal of this is to create an interesting discussion going between the experts, motivated by the questions from the audience. Remember panel is for the benefit of the audience, so a moderator is key to keep the discussion on track and within the skill set of the audience.

Have a look below for a more detailed description of how to how you own expert panel.

How to host you own Expert Panel

Time: 30-60mins People: 1 Moderator 2-4 Executives 8 – 20 Audience Equipment: Open room, chairs Expenses: Free Process:

  1. Select a discussion topic. It is generally advised to stick to a theme or central question. You could either use a prechosen topic or ask for suggestions of topics beforehand. Note: this should be done well in advance as it might affect your choice of expert.
  2. Select a moderator. The person will move the conversation forward and deal with questions and keep to the time frame.
  3. Select 2 - 4 experts to be a part of the panel.
  4. Either select or allow participants to sign up for the audience. Try to keep the numbers limited to 8-20. Too few, other strategies will be more helpful and to many it might put the experts at a disadvantage.
  5. Find an open space you can use. You want something warm and inviting. A class room setting would be best. Avoid communal areas and larger auditoriums. The idea is to get all of the audience asking questions.
  6. Set the time and the place. Give everyone an itinerary of what will be discussed.
  7. Once everyone is seated, have the moderator begin with a small introduction of the topic.
  8. Have the experts introduce themselves.
  9. The moderator asks the first question. Either present it to the group or pick out an executive to ask.
  10. The moderator should allow the discussion to develop naturally, only stepping in to keep the questions going or to ask an executive who is quite for their answer.
  11. Allow participants to ask questions. It is up to the moderator to choice how many questions are asked.

Here is a small list of discussion topics you can use:

Leadership skills

Client handling

Hardest part of your day

Supplier relationships

Management trends

Going a step further.

  • Deescalate the whole process. Give everyone food and drinks. Keep everyone on the same level. The whole point is an informal look into the experts’ attitudes and mindsets.
  • Be proactive with choosing topics. Hold a survey or voting for the topics. Try and find out what people really want to know.
  • Tailor questions to each expert. For example, ask how a recent problem at work was overcome or how the latest sales figures where reached.
  • Encourage the expert beforehand to give praise to areas and individuals of the company.
  • Don’t make it a speech about how to do things better. Prompt conflicting opinions in strategies.
  • You don’t want it too sound rehearsed.