When starting a business a great way to gain industry credibility and respect is to participate in a panel discussion. Together with colleagues you discuss, debate and entertain the topic with each other and the audience. But whether you are a panelist or an audience member there is a code of conduct that should be adhered.
The ultimate rule to remember is that the panel discussion is not about you. It is not a time to boost about your successes. Instead it is to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through rational debate.
Panelist or audience member.
- If you are on a panel or a panel moderator it is your responsibility to be prepared by researching the topic thoroughly. If you are quoting facts and statistic be prepared with evidence.
- Always stay on topic. Remember the audience is there to listen to a particular topic.
- As an audience member be on time. If you are late enter quietly.
- If you are in the audience turn off all electronic devices. If your phone rings and you need to answer it – quietly leave the room.
- The panelist is there to speak and answer questions so as an audience member come prepared with questions. Have your questions written, ensuring they are short, precise and to the point.
- If you wish to ask a question or comment raise your hand.
- Wait until somebody addresses you to ask your question or make comment.
- Do speak clearly, at good pace and with confidence.
- As a panelist you are one of the experts so be professional. The audience has made the effort to come and listen so have your dress appropriately.
- As an audience member it is accepted that you may not agree with the panel. If you have constructive criticism and can back up your opinion it is fine to state this. It is not good manners to simply berate the panel with vulgar accusations and ridicule.
- Personal insult is not acceptable by either the panel or audience.
- If you are in the audience do not fall asleep. If the discussion is not what you expected quietly leave.
- Do not waste your question on something you know they won’t be able to answer.
- Do not ask personal questions to individual panel members unless it is directly related to the topic.
- Respect moderator requests to move on, especially if you have brought up an adult issue during an all ages panel, something illegal, or something, which, while legal, might be an extremely triggering topic for the panelists.
A panel discussion is open for all to debate. Whether you are a panelist or member of the audience your credibility and expert knowledge will shine if you speak, clearly, at a good pace and rationally. Irate illogical discussion will only guarantee you will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.