If You’re Speaking on a Conference Panel, Don’t Wing It

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Being asked to speak on a panel can be an honor, but don’t think of it as a walk in the park. Sure, it’s less nerve-wracking than delivering a solo talk, but just showing up and answering the moderator’s questions is unlikely to make for an interesting discussion.
o Spend time preparing what you’ll say, and start by reaching out to the moderator well before the event. Ask how they intend to run the session.
o For instance, will they call on people to answer particular questions, or will it be a free-for-all where you’re expected to jump in?
o Do they have a list of questions already prepared, and if so, can they share it with you? That information will allow you to picture how the panel will go and steel yourself in advance if, for instance, you’re a bit shy and aren’t used to fighting for airtime.
o You’ll also want to plan out your talking points and try to speak up early on. The person who talks first often sets the tenor of the debate — plus you can ensure the person speaking before you doesn’t steal the key point you wanted to make.

Adapted from “How to Prepare for a Panel,” by Dorie Clark

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