good public speakers – Talking in Public

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How To Be A Part Of A Panel Presentation or Discussion

Panel discussionBeing part of a panel presentation can be a challenging preparation. Do you write a speech and hope you get to use it? Do you make some notes with bullet points and then “wing it” on the day? Do you need to prepare at all?

Let me answer the last question first with an emphatic YES. I’m sure you expected that! Let’s look at why…..



A panel presentation means you are part of a team, not necessarily with the same viewpoint but a team of presenters nonetheless. To prepare yourself, ask these questions of yourself

  • Why am I part of this panel?
  • Does the audience know why I am here?
  • What will my role be on this panel – subject matter expert, user of topic, critic of topic?
  • Is my information/viewpoint in a logical order of presentation?
  • How will questions be handled?
  • What are the most positive points with which I can finish?
  • Who will be in the audience?
  • How many will be in the audience?
  • How well do they know the topic?
  • How well is the topic accepted by the audience?
  • Have I broken up the time/topic/points allocation appropriately?
  • What time of day is the panel presentation?
  • Do I want the audience to take any action?
  • Will my organization be taking any action?


Rather a lot to consider now, isn’t there?


By looking at these questions (some, naturally will not be as relevant as others) you can prepare either a presentation if individual time has been allocated to you or some bullet point notes to keep with you. The bullet points should be in topic groups related to what you think the audience will ask or what they need to know from you.


Once again, some practice in using the notes for your responses will help you make your panel participation a success. Get someone to ask you questions or offer some points of view so you can respond as tough you were on the panel already.


When the panel actually happens, you need to listen to what is being said and acknowledge points in relation to what you want to say. Otherwise it will seem as though you have prepared a set amount of information and nothing anyone says on the day will change your presentation. You don’t have to change the content you have prepared, what you do have to do is listen to the others on the panel and use their presentation of information or opinion to lead in to what you have prepared.


In the next post, I will cover what you need to do to be a great podcast guest – or podcaster if you have your own podcast or are thinking about one.