So, you’ve agreed to be on a panel at a conference. Maybe you submitted a proposal. Maybe a friend or colleague approached you. But the end result is the same: you are now committed to being on a panel with 2-3 people you don’t know to discuss a topic that (hopefully) you do know.
Assuming you never again want to be chosen to participate in a panel discussion (or for a presentation), here are a few quick and easy ways to help ensure that you are a failure in your role that day.
Don’t communicate with your moderator. Don’t talk to your moderator in advance. Don’t give a copy of your presentation to the moderator so she can review the content of your 10-minute slidedeck. And don’t make certain that any of the other panelists did that either. Assume that your moderator has, in fact, moderated a panel before, knows what she’s doing, and has prepared questions to keep the conversation going. Also, assume that your moderator has enough knowledge of the topic being covered to create the questions on site.
Ignore the other panelists until the day of the presentation. Don’t connect with the other panelists at all. Don’t find out who the other panelist are. When you do find out, just assume that they, in fact, also know enough about the topic of the panel to cover it with credibility. Don’t verify that you aren’t covering the same content as the other panelists. Pretend that you can carry the entire panel by yourself.
Don’t research your audience. The easiest thing for you, the least work, will be to believe you know who is going to be at the conference, who the attendees are, without checking into it. Look at the logo and read the brochure, but don’t ask any questions about the goal of the conference and the panel.
Hashtag the wrong keyword in your promotion and live discussion. Assume that the hashtag given to you by your contact in the local organizing committee is the one that’s being used by all the official channels. And don’t realize that you were wrong until the day is over. That way all your great snippets of info (prior to and during) will be invisible to anyone following the conference conversation on Twitter.
Don’t promote. Do not tell the people in your networks that you will be speaking at the conference. Do not tell the conference attendees (via social media) the time and place where you will speak, and the topic you will cover. Do not tell anyone why they should care that you’re on the panel.
I’m sure there are many many other ways to ensure that you will be a failure. (For Example, agreeing to be on a panel about a topic on which you are not an expert.) These are just a few to get you started.
Of course, if your intent is to actually be successful as a panelist, then you might want to do the opposite of the suggestions above.
A great post on how to prepare for a presentation: 20 Things to Do After You Accept that Speaking Gig. Their suggestions include: Know yourself and your presentation style; Know your schedule; Know when and how you are eating; Make a check list; Dress to impress; Show up early; Share your slides; and, Send a thank you. Let me repeat that last one: Send a thank you!
— Written by: Sandra Fernandez
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