What Are Panel Discussions and How Can You Run Them Successfully?

What Are Panel Discussions and How Can You Run Them Successfully?
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Panel discussions are one way to keep your audience engaged while fostering new perspectives, collaboration, and professional growth.

Especially in recent times, offline and online panel discussions are becoming increasingly popular in debates, virtual meetings, and business presentations because they can provide audiences with insightful information.

From the recruitment process to the company’s marketing needs, businesses use panel discussions for different purposes.

However, there’s a format to follow. Conducting panel discussions randomly won’t be memorable or engaging and will create a boring environment. This article discusses everything about panel discussions, their format, and how to make the most of them.

We’ll also discuss how transcription services can enhance the impact of a panel discussion.

What Is a Panel Discussion?

A panel discussion is used at meetings, conventions, and conferences, where experts or industry leaders skilled in a specific topic engage in conversation among themselves in front of spectators.

Each panelist usually has different opinions on the matter being discussed or presented, creating a thought-provoking and well-rounded discussion to help the audience learn from it and be entertained.

Panel Discussion Format

A panel discussion format usually includes:

  • Experts gathering on the stage or in front of the camera to discuss the topic and their perspectives on it, including facts, opinions, and personal experiences
  • Then panelists answer audience questions
  • A moderator is always there to facilitate the discussion and keep it on track while fielding questions from the audience

However, executing your discussion properly is crucial to keep your audience engaged in the discussion.

Therefore, ensure your panel discussion:

  • Is insightful and thought-provoking instead of being a Q&A session with the audience
  • Presents various perspectives from different panelists concerning the topic without any repetitions.
  • Is not a series of presentations by the panelists or an unstructured discussion irrelevant to the topic.
  • Educates, inspires, and sparks the audience’s interest.

Additionally, record your panel discussion irrespective of whether it’s conducted offline or online over Zoom, Skype, or another medium.

Also, collaborate with a professional Zoom meeting transcription provider to ensure all recordings of your online panel discussion have accurate transcripts along with the correct names of the panelists, speakers, and moderators. This will help you if you need the recordings for future reference.

6 Practical Steps to Execute a Successful Panel Discussion

Follow these tips to run a well-organized, captivating, and informative panel discussion that speaks to the event’s objective:

1. Determine Your Purpose

Determine whether you’re conducting panel discussions to explore different perspectives and facts on the topic, provide updates on the latest industry trends, promote your brand or products, or provide some entertainment.

Determining the purpose is crucial to set the tone and format of the discussion, whether it should be casual and entertaining or more like an industry debate.

However, you should know your audience and their interests to pinpoint the purpose and customize content for your discussion.

Understand the topics your audience cares about, the biases or assumptions they might have, and what challenges they are facing at the present time. This will help you tailor the panel discussion content appropriate for your target audience.

See Also: What Is Needed for a Hybrid Meeting?

2. Select the Right Panelists

Choose your panelists according to your panel discussion’s topic to enable them to provide various and unique perspectives on the topic. Research your panelists to verify that they are specialized in the topic to be presented in your discussion.

You can also check out their past panel discussions to see if they have the skills and ability to attract an audience.  

Hire 3-5 panelists because hiring less than three panelists will make your discussion look like an interview while hiring over five panelists might make it unmanageable and limit the depth of conversation. Try to include panelists with different perspectives and backgrounds.

3. Prepare Your Speakers

Preparing your panelists is crucial for making your panel discussion successful. Give your panelists discussion questions beforehand and keep letting them know who is listening in.

This will help them pinpoint the audience’s current challenges, learning expectations, and actionable insights they look for and prepare accordingly.

4. Have a Skillful Moderator

Moderators play a vital role in the success of the panel discussion, as they perform multiple tasks, including:

  • Managing the time and keeping the discussion smoothly moving forward
  • Guiding panelists in the right direction and handling things if the discussion goes off-topic
  • Bridging or paraphrasing concepts to highlight key takeaways and help spectators stay connected
  • Facilitating Q&A sessions
  • Clarifying unfamiliar technical language, concepts, and terminology
  • Preventing a single panelist from dominating the discussion

Therefore, a proactive moderator is extremely helpful as they assist with good listening skills and elevate a simple discussion to an active and interesting conversation.

5. Engage the Audience

Keep your panel discussions audience-focused and get audiences to participate in the discussion either through:

  • Q&A: Have them submit questions through a Q&A platform and answer them accordingly.
  • Live polls: Run a multi-choice poll with real-time results (concerning your topic) to see how many spectators react to it and use that data to carry the discussion forward.

See Also: How to Effectively Transcribe Zoom Recordings

6. Enhance Your Panel Discussions with, Video/ Audio Transcriptions

Panel discussions usually include valuable information that attendees will want to reflect on. The transcripts will allow people to relive the discussion, and it will also be more accessible to visually and hearing impaired persons.

Get Your Panel Discussions Transcribed with GMR Transcription

Contact us today at GMR Transcription Services, Inc. if you need help transcribing your panel discussions. We provide fast, accurate, high-quality professional meeting transcription services at reasonable prices.

With 100% US-based human transcriptionists who ensure 99% accuracy in all your transcripts, we are committed to providing you with the best transcripts for your audios and videos.

Get Latest News & Insights Sent Directly To Your Inbox

Related Posts

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.