How to Lead a Great Panel Discussion

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How to Lead a Great Panel Discussion

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Seven things you need to know to lead a riveting panel discussion. See
Saturday, October 3, 2009 - 7:00am


In my work in training and preparing business executives and professionals for service on nonprofit boards of directors, I facilitate panel discussions. The panelists include corporate leaders who chair and serve on NGO boards, and CEOs of global, national, and regional nonprofits. I've always said that the best panel discussions are more like Broadway shows. You get across the vital learning content--but with spontaneous drama, engaging the audience in the personalities and dynamics of the panelists and the stories and experiences they are conveying.

At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) during the past week, it was fun, for a change, to be part of the audience that observes panels led by others. The panel led by Diane Sawyer, "Investing in Women and Girls," definitely won the prize for best drama: There was diversity of opinion on the panel and Sawyer made sure we heard it, graciously.

Here's what it takes to put on a panel discussion that will rivet your audience:

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