One client I worked with was invited to speak on a panel at an industry conference. This presenting opportunity was a chance to showcase his personal brand and company brand. Now that would have been okay – just answering the questions put to him by the chair of the panel. But by understanding the outcome he wanted to achieve from this engagement he was able to maximise the opportunity and ended up gaining media exposure – a further way to grow his brand. To be considered a valuable contributor to a panel discussion here are a few tips to help you succeed and stand out.
Have an objective in mind.Consider what you hope to achieve by being on this panel and what you want the audience to do or remember. Using my client example, there was a “stated” objective which was to answer the questions highlighting new company announcements, informing the audience and updating them about the impact this business was making.The “unstated” objective was to impress and influence The Australian newspaper journalist in the audience to do a further interview.
Just by having in the back of his mind these outcomes he was able to clearly articulate the company announcements, promote the industry and state the economic value of it to the community, which in turn did impress the journalist. Subsequently an interview was done, photo taken and not only did the business get some attention so did the personal brand of the speaker.
Prepare like a speaking presentation. Know the important points and key messages you want to get across and frame them using a story or anecdote to make the delivery more interesting. Practice beforehand. Be prepared to introduce yourself if asked and do that succinctly. Or prepare a brief introduction for the chair so he/she doesn’t just read out a long-winded bio. Likewise prepare a strong opening and engaging closing statement.
Precision and brevity with your answers. Keep to the point and don’t just say something for the sake of being heard. If you haven’t anything to add to the previous comment say so. Don’t just repeat what the other panelist has said. The idea is to keep the conversation lively. If you don’t agree with the previous point or have something controversial to add – say so. An engaging debate will keep the audience entertained. You want to put your point across without being argumentative and humour always works.
Know the panel you’re on. You will have an overview of the topic for discussion and hopefully some questions that may be put forward. You will have considered and rehearsed your responses to those questions. Consider also what other panelists may say by researching their backgrounds, current and previous roles and media commentary they have been featured in. Meet and greet beforehand and support each other to make the panel presentation entertaining and informative.
Brand image. One of my pillars of personal brand is professional image and appearing polished when in the public eye, so I always think it’s important to consider what to wear. Ask if there is a dress code and adhere to that – but do dress according to your own individual style and present the best version of you. All eyes are on the panel even if you are not speaking so be aware of body language and sit upright, keep alert and responsive to the what is happening on stage.
Read last week’s blog Should a TED Presenter Care About Their Togs?
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