How to prepare to be on a panel

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Public speaking is a well-known inducer of nerves. Being nervous is not a negative thing, it simply means that something important is happening. And what’s more important than you being asked to be on a panel demonstrating all of your expertise in the field you operate? In this blog post, we will give you some conceivable real-world examples so you are ready when that moment comes.

If nerves are at the forefront of your mind, remembering this will keep them at bay. Being a guest on a panel discussion is far less taxing than other options, such as preparing for and giving a lecture. A lot of the panel discussion will arise organically, from the route that the conversation takes on the day. The questions will be targeted and they, of course, won’t all be fired at you, as there’s some other cannon-fodder sat next to you for an audience to shoot at. So, breathe. It’ll be a breeze!

We recommend reaching out to the panel moderator and the other panellists beforehand. Even if it’s just a quick ‘Hello!’ message, it’s always good to touch base with your co-conspirators before you take to the stage. Granted, we’re all time-poor and the first time that you meet your fellow panellists is often at the event, but a little message can go a long way. If you know the people who will be next to you on stage, meet for a coffee to discuss your plan for how you see the evening going. Even a brief chat can shape the evening to best suit your ends. Ask them if they have any questions prepared, and you could always prep them with questions that you would like to be asked, too.

Be sure to outline your main talking points before you take to the stage. These can be as brief as you like, and we recommend having them to hand either on a piece of paper or on your notes app on your phone, to make sure that you say all that you want to and to keep the conversation on track. By prepping before, it also gives you the upper hand if you speak first. You can direct the conversation in the way that you want it to go and shape the conversation to topics that you’re most fluent in.

On the topic of time, it shows the utmost professionalism if you can master the balance of it. This includes the amount of time that you have spoken for if this is too much or too little. A neat tip may be to set a timer on your phone or have a colleague in the audience prepared to notify you with a discreet hand gesture if you’re going over the imaginary time limit. You don’t want to be that rambling know-it-all microphone-muncher, it dilutes your words to a mush in your audience's mind.

The art of public speaking takes time to master, so do not feel like you need to reflect Julius Caesar in the Coliseum on your first go. Stick to the tips that we have suggested, and you’re well on your way to a great performance. Good luck!

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.