Surefire Guide for Hosting an Awesome Panel

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Panels are an excellent way for talented professionals to share deep insights, lessons learned, and valuable experiences. They provide a casual forum for the listening audience to hear real stories directly from the source. A well-constructed panel has the ability to impact the audience with true and long lasting value...or they could go horribly wrong.

9 tips to help you host or participate in an exceptional panel

  1. Brainstorm a topic. If you’re creating the panel, the initial conversation direction should come from you. What do you want your panelists to talk about? Why do you want them to address that topic? What value will the audience gain by learning about it?

  2. Select your panelists. Who are the right people with experience to address that topic? Why do you believe they are a good fit? How do the different panelists compliment the overall theme?

  3. Invite your panelists. Contact your panelists individually and share your vision. Tell them about your topic idea. Share with them why you believe they would make an incredible panelist. Help them confidently say “Yes!”

  4. Email all panelists. Once each panelist has agreed, send out a group email that introduces everyone. Reshape your panel topic. Within the email thread, propose a time for everyone to join a group call to flesh out the topic idea and brainstorm the session flow.

  5. Host a brainstorming session. At least a month before the event, host a call where you thank, welcome, and formally introduce all of the panelists taking part. If your panelists don’t know each other, ask them to share a little bit about their background and experience. Then discuss why you thought about each panelist’s unique flavor will enhance the panel. During the conversation, discuss your topic idea and ask for feedback. How could their stories add to the narrative? What are the lessons learned? How did that person approach that issue and then find a solution to overcome?

  6. Draft a session outline. After the brainstorming session, merge it with the valuable insights from your panelists and draft an outline that aligns with their unique experiences. Send an email with the call notes and your newly remastered session outline.

  7. Gather feedback. Ask all of the panelists to review the outline. Do you they any questions? Comments? Ideas to make it better?

  8. Setup a prep call. By now, your panelists should be comfortable with each other. Within this conversation, review the outline from a high level. Does everyone feel comfortable with the questions? Want to change any questions? How does everyone feel about the conversation flow? Do they want add more information? Share an additional story? Ask for any other final changes? Also, take this time together to discuss logistics. How early should panelists arrive? What is the dress attire? How long is the event? How many people are expected to be in attendance? Will they be sitting or standing? Will they have microphones or lavaliers? Inform them of any details that you believe will make them better prepared for the event.

  9. Host the panel. It’s the big day. It’s time to host a panel. Your panel is prepped, prepared, and ready to go. By investing the time to flesh out your topic, it’s well thought out. You selected and found qualified panelists. They know the conversation outline and are prepared for their questions. Now, it’s time to get on stage and ask those questions. Take a deep breath, you got this!

Follow these 9 steps and you will host a well-constructed panel that will impact the audience with true and long lasting value.

One last comment, step 10, thank your panelists. It’s not easy to get up and talk in front of a group of people. Send them personalized thank you notes that demonstrates how much effort it took them to prepare and participate in your vision. It was a team effort and together, you all crush it!

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

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401(k) Marketing, LLC is not in the business of providing legal advice with respect to ERISA or any other applicable law. The materials and information do not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice. The materials are general in nature and intended for informational purposes only. All content, including any brochures or other materials designed for potential use with plan sponsors, fiduciaries, and plan participants, must be reviewed and approved by the compliance and legal department(s) of the Financial Professional and/or Third Party Administrators firm prior to any use to confirm that they meet the firm’s legal and compliance policies and standards. The Financial Professional, Third Party Administrator,  and his/her firm are solely responsible for the use of content and any materials included herein, and for ensuring that all services provided by the Financial Professional and Third Party Administrators conform to the firm’s legal and compliance policies and standards.