Be an Influential Panelist: 10 Steps for Sharing the Stage and Winning Your Audience


Most panelists are used to speaking about their area of expertise and are fairly comfortable being on stage. But speaking on a panel and sharing the spotlight with other equally experienced experts is different than commanding the room yourself. What makes for success in an individual presentation (namely, having the focus entirely on you, having full control of the content and audience involvement, and having full responsibility for the outcome) will be the demise of any panel. Imagine if everyone on the panel acted like they this was their show?

When it comes to being an effective panel member, sharing the stage with tack and courtesy is critical to the group’s success. You must know when to let the spotlight shine brightly on you and when to let it shine on others. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. Following are some suggestions that will make your panel experience a successful one for you, your fellow panelists and most important, your audience.

Before the Panel Presentation

1. Know your audience, moderator and other panelists. Preparation is always essential. Therefore, begin by analyzing the audience—who this group is and what they want from the panel. In the short time you will have to speak, what is the most important thing you can tell them that will help them succeed? Also, get to know the moderator, as well as the other panel members. If you don’t know them already, look them up online and insist on a pre-briefing meeting via phone. Find out their area of expertise, how their knowledge is complimentary to yours, and what you can do to help each other succeed.  

2. Prepare your content. Once you know how your particular expertise fits into the overall panel, prepare an outline of your notes, taking the time for special preparation of your “Touch Points.” These are those juicy rhetorical devices that build your case and engage and excite your audience. Come up with a quote or two, an analogy, a story or example, facts and statistics, and even a joke. You may never have the time or opportunity to use everything, but you want to be ready to recall and deliver that eloquent rhetorical jewel at just the right time. Your audience will love you for this. (Note: Never use PowerPoint or other visual aids when on a panel. The beauty of a panel discussion is the lively, spontaneous nature of a conversation by a group of experts. So while taking the time to prepare and fill your tool box is essential, don’t over prepare.)

3. Brush up on your delivery skills. A panel is a mini presentation, and the same public speaking skills that make you successful in other presentation venues apply here as well. But keep in mind you will need to adapt your skills to this less formal, shared communication environment, so you may use your skills differently. Pay careful attention to the following clusters of delivery skills: Physical Presence (eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture and movement), Vocal Resonance (pronunciation, enunciation, volume, rate of speech, pitch, inflection, strategic pauses), and Distinctive Language (concise sentences, powerful and emotional words, avoidance of non-words like “um” and “ah,” and avoidance of jargon and slang). Search any of these terms on my blog and you’ll get a wealth of information to help you.

During the Panel Presentation                     

4. Choose to be congenial and controversial. The goal of most panels is to educate, enlighten, inspire and explore many sides of an issue to set the stage for action. To achieve this, panel members often play two important roles: advocate and devil’s advocate. While it’s critical to be diplomatic and respectful, don’t be afraid to bring up something controversial or respond with a strong point of view. The audience loves it when experts are in agreement on certain issues yet able to respectfully butt heads on other issues.

5. Stay attentive and involved. When you are speaking, make sure you address the audience directly, rather than speak to the moderator or other panelists. And since you are always on stage, remember that the audience is watching you even when you are not speaking. Therefore, pay special attention to your body, mind, and spirit during these times. Stay attentive, sit up straight, make eye contact with the audience, and look interested in what others are saying. Smile and nod often. The moments when you’re not speaking count as much as when you are.

6. Take control when needed. Being a panel member is a lot like playing jazz. You are an expert in your area and know your instrument, but you also know exactly how to improvise with the other musicians and panelists. One good tool to use is “bridging language,” as in, “To build on what you are saying Mark…,” or “If I can add to that Jan…,” or “What you’re saying, Lucy, makes me think of…” Always be a good role model for the other panelists by using presentation tools like this that set the bar high.

7. End on a high note. If the moderator asks you to give a last comment, use one of the great touch points you’ve prepared. Use a quote, metaphor, or shocking statistic, or bring it back to where the conversation began and refer to the opening. Make an effort to make your final words memorable and you will stand out.

After the Panel Presentation

8. Be available. The moderator will wrap up the presentation and tell the audience where they can find you online to continue the conversation. If time permits stay around and meet members of the audience and answer questions personally.

9. Show your gratitude. Send a thank you to the moderator and the other panelists. Let them know you enjoyed sharing the stage from them and learning their points of view. Offer to be of service to them in the future. You never know where your next lead will come from.

10. Make notes on this panel experience. What went well? What did you enjoy? What would you like to improve? How were you received? What is one thing you would do differently next time? Keep a feedback log of your panel experience so your skills continue to broaden and grow.

Experienced panel members know how to not only make themselves look good, but also make everyone else on the panel look good too. Therefore, organize your content and polish your delivery skills, and remember to elevate each panel member by showing respect, highlighting their achievements when you can, and reinforcing to the audience that you feel privileged to be on this panel with such an esteemed group. A little preparation and humility go a long way when it comes to successfully sharing the stage.

Source: How to Be a Panelist

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Be an Influential Panelist: 10 Steps for Sharing the Stage and Winning Your Audience


Most panelists are used to speaking about their area of expertise and are fairly comfortable being on stage. But speaking on a panel and sharing the spotlight with other equally experienced experts is different than commanding the room yourself. What makes for success in an individual presentation (namely, having the focus entirely on you, having full control of the content and audience involvement, and having full responsibility for the outcome) will be the demise of any panel. Imagine if everyone on the panel acted like they this was their show?

When it comes to being an effective panel member, sharing the stage with tack and courtesy is critical to the group’s success. You must know when to let the spotlight shine brightly on you and when to let it shine on others. That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. Following are some suggestions that will make your panel experience a successful one for you, your fellow panelists and most important, your audience.

Before the Panel Presentation

1. Know your audience, moderator and other panelists. Preparation is always essential. Therefore, begin by analyzing the audience—who this group is and what they want from the panel. In the short time you will have to speak, what is the most important thing you can tell them that will help them succeed? Also, get to know the moderator, as well as the other panel members. If you don’t know them already, look them up online and insist on a pre-briefing meeting via phone. Find out their area of expertise, how their knowledge is complimentary to yours, and what you can do to help each other succeed.  

2. Prepare your content. Once you know how your particular expertise fits into the overall panel, prepare an outline of your notes, taking the time for special preparation of your “Touch Points.” These are those juicy rhetorical devices that build your case and engage and excite your audience. Come up with a quote or two, an analogy, a story or example, facts and statistics, and even a joke. You may never have the time or opportunity to use everything, but you want to be ready to recall and deliver that eloquent rhetorical jewel at just the right time. Your audience will love you for this. (Note: Never use PowerPoint or other visual aids when on a panel. The beauty of a panel discussion is the lively, spontaneous nature of a conversation by a group of experts. So while taking the time to prepare and fill your tool box is essential, don’t over prepare.)

3. Brush up on your delivery skills. A panel is a mini presentation, and the same public speaking skills that make you successful in other presentation venues apply here as well. But keep in mind you will need to adapt your skills to this less formal, shared communication environment, so you may use your skills differently. Pay careful attention to the following clusters of delivery skills: Physical Presence (eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture and movement), Vocal Resonance (pronunciation, enunciation, volume, rate of speech, pitch, inflection, strategic pauses), and Distinctive Language (concise sentences, powerful and emotional words, avoidance of non-words like “um” and “ah,” and avoidance of jargon and slang). Search any of these terms on my blog and you’ll get a wealth of information to help you.

During the Panel Presentation                     

4. Choose to be congenial and controversial. The goal of most panels is to educate, enlighten, inspire and explore many sides of an issue to set the stage for action. To achieve this, panel members often play two important roles: advocate and devil’s advocate. While it’s critical to be diplomatic and respectful, don’t be afraid to bring up something controversial or respond with a strong point of view. The audience loves it when experts are in agreement on certain issues yet able to respectfully butt heads on other issues.

5. Stay attentive and involved. When you are speaking, make sure you address the audience directly, rather than speak to the moderator or other panelists. And since you are always on stage, remember that the audience is watching you even when you are not speaking. Therefore, pay special attention to your body, mind, and spirit during these times. Stay attentive, sit up straight, make eye contact with the audience, and look interested in what others are saying. Smile and nod often. The moments when you’re not speaking count as much as when you are.

6. Take control when needed. Being a panel member is a lot like playing jazz. You are an expert in your area and know your instrument, but you also know exactly how to improvise with the other musicians and panelists. One good tool to use is “bridging language,” as in, “To build on what you are saying Mark…,” or “If I can add to that Jan…,” or “What you’re saying, Lucy, makes me think of…” Always be a good role model for the other panelists by using presentation tools like this that set the bar high.

7. End on a high note. If the moderator asks you to give a last comment, use one of the great touch points you’ve prepared. Use a quote, metaphor, or shocking statistic, or bring it back to where the conversation began and refer to the opening. Make an effort to make your final words memorable and you will stand out.

After the Panel Presentation

8. Be available. The moderator will wrap up the presentation and tell the audience where they can find you online to continue the conversation. If time permits stay around and meet members of the audience and answer questions personally.

9. Show your gratitude. Send a thank you to the moderator and the other panelists. Let them know you enjoyed sharing the stage from them and learning their points of view. Offer to be of service to them in the future. You never know where your next lead will come from.

10. Make notes on this panel experience. What went well? What did you enjoy? What would you like to improve? How were you received? What is one thing you would do differently next time? Keep a feedback log of your panel experience so your skills continue to broaden and grow.

Experienced panel members know how to not only make themselves look good, but also make everyone else on the panel look good too. Therefore, organize your content and polish your delivery skills, and remember to elevate each panel member by showing respect, highlighting their achievements when you can, and reinforcing to the audience that you feel privileged to be on this panel with such an esteemed group. A little preparation and humility go a long way when it comes to successfully sharing the stage.

Source: How to Be a Panelist

Moderate with Moderation: 10 Steps to Running a Successful Panel Discussion


If you’ve ever moderated a panel discussion or have seen a poorly-run panel, you know how difficult the task can be: One panel member rambles on, another tries to dominate the discussion, and someone else disturbs the group by continually shuffling papers. It’s enough to make you shirk at the idea of ever moderating a panel.

But don’t despair…moderating a panel discussion can be a rewarding experience—one that enables you to guide both the panel and audience while providing structure and support so the panel’s talent and expertise shine through. When you moderate effectively, you manage the audience and your panel members so everyone benefits.

The purpose of a panel discussion is to bring together top talent in one area so that a group of experts can share and build upon each other’s experience. Panel discussions are useful if an issue is too complex for one person to handle, or if the audience needs to be exposed to various people or viewpoints at the same session. Typically, panel discussions have a goal in mind, whether to introduce a new concept, disseminate facts, show different points of view, get people thinking in a new direction, or any one of a hundred other possibilities.

Unfortunately, many panel discussions fall short of their objective and deteriorate into long-winded, disjointed, and boring mini-presentations from the various panel members. This is why having an effective panel moderator is so important. Even the most brilliant panelists need someone to guide the discussion, keep everyone on task, and ensure that the audience is engaged in a meaningful and lively discussion that ultimately benefits them.

To succeed as a panel moderator, use the following ten tips.

1. Keep the Panel Small and Focused

Just because you’re having multiple perspectives on a topic doesn’t mean you need an army of panelists. Panels that are too large are unwieldy and difficult to manage, while panels that are too small make it difficult to flesh out all the points of view. The ideal panel number is the “fabulous four”—four experts in the chosen topic who have different experiences and who don’t always agree with each other.

2. Get to Know Your Panel Members

Gather the panelists ahead of time on a conference call to discuss the content and the format of the session. Plan out whether each speaker will be given a set amount of time, or if the session will be wholly interactive, meaning a moderator firing questions at the panel. If each speaker has a set amount of time, determine which panelist will focus on which part of the topic to keep from duplicating presentation points. Finally, collect biographies of the speakers for introduction purposes. Make sure you have the pronunciation of each speaker’s name correct.

3. Plan the Questions Ahead of Time

No one likes to be surprised by curveball questions. And while a little controversy and “throwing people off guard” can keep things interesting, you want your panel members to feel comfortable and confident in the topic at hand. Therefore, plan two or three questions per panel member, and send them your questions ahead of time. Ask that they don’t create “scripted” answers to your questions, but that they merely review the questions and come up with some bullet points to discuss during the panel presentation.

4. Meet and Greet the Day or Night of the Event.

Arrange for you and your panel members to meet in the Speakers’ Lounge or the actual session room to introduce them and check in. Plan to arrive at either location at least 30-45 minutes before the session is due to start. Hold a brief rehearsal, reviewing the format of the session and either the questions you’ll start with or who will present first. Also use this time to hook up and test any equipment, check microphones, set up notes, and get settled before the audience arrives.

5. Open with a Brief Reference to the Topic Being Discussed

The moderator sets and maintains the tone for the panel discussion, so it’s important to welcome the audience and lead into the topic with a short hook. A lengthy story is not appropriate, but a short quote, analogy, or anecdote will kick off the discussion, warm up the audience, and highlight the importance of the event.

6. Introduce the Panel Members

When it comes to introducing the panel members, you have two options. 1) You can have each panel member introduce him or herself with a short two-minute introduction, or 2) You can introduce the panelists. With the first option, you give the audience a chance to settle in and have a more personal connection to the panel members. With the second option, you set a more formal tone. With either option, make sure you or the panel member adds a human element to the introduction. Simply listing job titles and credentials gets boring; therefore, try to mention some interesting tidbits, such as, “Jack is the father of quadruplets,” or “Shirley is also a backyard gardener who specializes in award-winning tomatoes.”

7. Keep the Focus on the Panel, Not on You.

Even though you may be a well known expert in the topic or have some celebrity status in your industry, don’t make the panel discussion about yourself. Your role is to guide the conversation, maintain an appropriate tone, keep people on task, and ensure everyone gets ample time to present his or her point of view. You are not there to give a formal presentation or state your opinions, so for now, keep them to yourself.

8. Prepare Your “Cutoff Phrases” Ahead of Time

Be prepared to cut off long-winded panel members or those who ramble off topic. Having some pre-planned cutoff phrases helps. For example, if someone goes off on a tangent that is not useful to the overall topic, you could interrupt and say, “You have an interesting point there, but we want to know more about ________.” Likewise, if someone is dominating the discussion, watch the person’s natural breathing rhythm and then interject between breaths, “Thank you, Julie. Now let’s hear Bob’s perspective on this topic.” It’s always best to ask the panel members what “cutoff phrases” they respond to. Tell them you will use this tactic for keeping the discussion focused and on time.

9. Have Microphones in the Audience for the Question and Answer Session

Before opening the floor for questions, tell the audience any ground rules for asking questions that you want them to follow. Then, encourage the audience to ask questions, but never turn the microphone over to an audience member. If an audience member starts to drone on, politely interrupt and ask him or her to state a question. If an audience member asks a question that’s overly specific to a single panelist or otherwise not particularly relevant to the concerns of the wider audience, don’t be afraid to say, “That’s an interesting question and perhaps better addressed in depth by Panelist A after the wider Q&A we’re doing now.” Finally, if you’re in a big room, not everyone will hear the questions when they’re asked, so always repeat the question. Add one quick summary comment after each question to transition to the next question.

10. Give a Gracious “Thank You” to Each Panel Member

You certainly can’t thank your panelists enough for sharing their expertise. In addition to a verbal “thank you” after the panel discussion, some people give their panelists a small gift at the event or send a handwritten note afterwards, or both. If you received positive feedback from your audience about the panel—either on feedback forms or just informally after the session—you should convey that information to your panelists.

Moderate for Success

When you do a great job as moderator by bringing out the best in the panelists, the audience will appreciate you. They’ll remember your name and seek out your expertise in the future. So in a sense, being a moderator is a great opportunity for you to enhance your credibility and your reputation, but only if you do it right. Use these ten tips to ensure your moderate with ease—and with power—so you can showcase your panelists and ultimately yourself.

Source:  How to be a great panelist

7 Tips for Giving the Perfect Eulogy


Recently I attended a memorial celebration of the all-too-short life of one of my husband’s colleagues. Several family members and friends made touching tributes to the deceased, and as I sat in the crowded room I listened to these presentations not as Angela the speech coach, but as a mourner in a community of mourners.

Still, the speakers who know my profession came up afterwards and asked, “How did I do?” I’m by no means an expert on giving a eulogy (even though I have given a few in my life), but I will share what I learned that day that touched me as both a mourner and a speech coach. Here are my seven elements of a moving eulogy.

1. Use “good words”: The word “eulogy” comes from the classical Greek for “good words,” and that’s a great place to start. Choose uplifting, evocative, descriptive words, even if they are not in your everyday vocabulary. Now is the moment to employ words that bring solace, comfort, and hope to those listening, so let your imagination and your inner preacher flow. Think about the words that give you hope—they are the words to use.

2. Be grateful: You have been asked to speak because you had a special relationship with the person being honored, so consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Not only will you be honoring a person you loved, but you also have a unique opportunity to help everyone in the room feel more connected and at peace. This powerful moment will stay with you for the rest of your life.

3. Prepare well: The hardest part of giving a eulogy is that there is little time to prepare. Even if you only have a day or two to prepare, do more than “think about” what you’re going to say. The most memorable eulogies are well prepared with interesting facts, stories, and recurring themes and patterns. I’ve often heard people say they learned so much about the person from the speeches given at the memorial service. Type your notes double spaced and wide margins or write them o n 5 x 8 cards. You may not need to refer to these aids but they will be there if you do.

4. Find the unique signature: Each of us has a personal signature, and like our fingerprint, it is unique to us. I don’t mean how you sign your name but rather the themes, behavior patterns, and activities that we love most in life. If you’re unsure of the person’s signature, talk to family members and friends to learn what gave the person’s life color and meaning. What was this person devoted to—tropical sunsets, their family, a particular sport, a special non-profit organization?

5. Practice your delivery: Practice at least three times before you deliver the eulogy, preferably in front of one or two people. Practice speaking to the closest family members. They will be sitting in the front row and deserve your focus and attention. Of course, include the bigger group, but always come back to those in the front. Stand up tall, stay still, speak slowly, enunciate clearly, and allow time for the audience to respond to your stories and jokes.

 

6. Manage your emotions: This may be the hardest part for many people, especially if this is your first eulogy. That’s why it’s so important to prepare and practice ahead of time. Yet, even if you do practice, your emotions may rise up unexpectedly. Don’t worry if they do. Your audience is forgiving if you tear up—they will be tearing up with you—but it will be very hard on everyone, particularly the family members, if you break down in sobs. So if you feel yourself becoming overly emotional, pause, take a deep breath, smile at the audience, look at your notes, gather your composure, and move on.

 

7. Use humor: The most touching and gratifying moments of any eulogy are embedded in humorous stories about the person being celebrated. That’s where “kernels of truth” reside. People relate best to stories, and humor helps lift our spirits in a way nothing else can. Your audience needs you to make them laugh. So even if you’re not a natural at telling a humorous story or funny joke, give it a try. Just remember to keep the story highly relevant to the occasion and to practice your punch line.

 

For some inspiration, I’d recommend you read a wonderful book, Farewell, Godspeed: The Greatest Eulogies of Our Time, edited by Cyrus M. Copeland. This remarkable collection includes eulogies given for some of the most notable people of our time, from George Harrison to Henry Ford to Lucille Ball. Here you will read many “good words.”

I’d love to hear your experience giving eulogies. Please comment on this blog or email me your thoughts with “eulogies” in the subject line.

Source: http://www.definiscommunications.com/blog/7-tips-for-giving-the-perfect-eulogy/

Ten Tips for Becoming the Teller of Tales


How to Use Storytelling to Connect with Any Audience

Storytelling is the pathway to personal connection with your audience. Whether you give a presentation to two people or two thousand, stories are the secret to success. Stories help you capture the attention and seize the hearts and minds of your listeners. Every type of presentation from the deeply technical to the highly motivational can benefit from the addition of meaningful, relevant, and lively stories. Your stories will be remembered long after your last word is spoken.

 

  1. Step into the Storyteller’s Mindset. The first step to telling great stories is to move into the “storyteller’s mindset.” This means having the courage to move away from the more typical “analysis based” presentation format. If you are willing to tell a few stories with sincerity and humor you will be amply rewarded. Your audience will respond in a whole new way. So if you’re bucking your own personal resistance or your company culture, stick your neck out anyway. Tell a story and you may learn one of the greatest lessons of public speaking—audiences love them!
  2. Develop Your Storyline. Look at any great story—from Odysseus’ journey in the Odyssey to the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet—and you’ll see that all memorable stories share a common structure. Every story you tell should include the following elements: a main character, an interesting plot, a series of obstacles, a turning point, and a resolution. Develop your stories with this simple structure in mind: beginning, middle, and end.
  3. Create Engaging Characters. Get to know your hero and heroine. Think about them. Give them names, faces, and places—and move them through your storyline. Describe your characters in vivid detail using all five senses so that they are believable and likable. The more you develop your characters the easier it will be for your audience to connect with them—and you. Let your story grow with each new telling. You will see your characters develop in ways you never imagined.
  4. Listen to the Stories of Others. Once you start paying attention, you will discover that stories are everywhere. You will hear them in your everyday business presentations; in community meetings; in political, cultural, and religious speeches; in entertainment and comedy; at social events; in the media, and at the dinner table. Write down every great story you hear so that you have fresh, new material for every presentation.
  5. Use the World Bank of Stories. Thousands of stories are in the public domain, and they come from cultures all over the world. Folktales, fables, myths, fairy tales, classics, parables, and religious stories abound. Good speakers who want to use stories but don’t feel confident or have the time or expertise to create their own often turn to these great stories that are available and handed down to us. So look for a story that is relevant and specific to the purpose of your presentation—free of charge!
  6. Use Personal/Celebrity Stories. Use the personal stories of others, as long as you quote the original speaker or source. Such stories can be useful because they move you one step closer to telling your own story. Look for stories from prominent national or international business or political leaders, authors, artists, academics, or others of note. But don’t forget to look for stories from everyday people as well. Aunt Louise may have told a memorable story about Uncle George that could fit perfectly into your next presentation.
  7. Tell Your Own Story. Your personal stories can often have the greatest impact on your audience. When you tell stories based on your own personal experiences you invite others into your world to experience your unique point of view. Tell stories from your past, present, or your projected future or share firsthand experiences with someone you know, such as your clients, your colleagues, your associates, or your family and friends. Stories are everywhere you look.
  8. Use Dramatic Interpretation. Keep in mind the importance of your body and voice in bringing your story to life. Use gestures, eye contact, facial expression, and movement. Vary your vocal range and change your pitch from high to low. Stories invite the use of dramatic elements. Use dialogue, pauses, creative tension, and humor. Read children’s stories out loud and practice your delivery skills in everyday conversation. Make your stories come alive!
  9. Link Your Story to Your Purpose. Even well told stories can be flat and meaningless if they are not linked to the overall purpose of your presentation. Always take the relevance test and ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish in telling this story?” Find a creative way to link your tale to the audience, the topic, or the occasion. Help the audience understand the connection between your story and your purpose by saying, “I’m sharing this story with you today because…” This simple technique will keep you and your audience engaged and on track.
  10. Embrace the Power of Practice. Once you’ve created a great storyline with memorable characters, take the time to rehearse before you go live. Practice in front of friends and family. Get feedback and make changes. Practice on camera and take notes on what you like and what you want to change. Tell stories whenever you can. When someone asks, “How was your day?” tell a story. When someone asks, “What happened in the staff meeting?” tell a story. When someone asks, “What did you have for lunch?” tell a story. Take every opportunity to build your skill and confidence. Practice your storytelling skills every chance you get!

 

About the Author

Angela DeFinis is an expert in professional public speaking. As an author, speaker, and CEO/Founder of DeFinis Communications Inc., she has spent over twenty years helping business professionals find solutions to their communication challenges and develop a broader repertoire of potent speaking skills. Her message and approach create positive, personal, and lasting change. Contact her at adefinis@definiscommunications.com.

Source: http://www.definiscommunications.com/resource-center/article_storytelling.php

Website:  DeFinis Communications Inc.,