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The Event Manager’s Guide to Creative Alternatives for Panels

(Or, No More Boring Panels, Please!)

Introduction

We’re awash in a sea of events.  There are more than half-a-million Meetups listed on Meetup.com every month. Eventbrite offered tickets to more than 2 million events last year. In 2015, there were 47 million public event listings created on Facebook.  There are more than 92,000 professional organizations in the US, many holding monthly events.

Many of these events are speaker or panel-driven. In many conferences, a group of experts sits onstage and discusses a given topic for an hour (or more), answers a few questions from the audience and is replaced by another panel, on another topic, who repeat the process.

The panel is the beloved refuge of event managers and speakers alike.  Choose a group of industry experts and throw them onstage with a moderator and you are good to go. Rarely is there more than minimal preparation – a pre-panel conference call where the panelists agree on a format and toss around a few questions is often the extent of it.

Meanwhile, panels can also be a way to hear many voices and perspectives in an efficient manner. They offer more speakers a way to get onstage, get experience speaking and tell their story, making valuable connections with other influencers and experts, both onstage and in the audience. Panels also offer a way to hear ideas discussed.

What can you do to liven up your event? We’ve gathered up ideas for you, separated them into categories and created this guide with many options and alternatives to panels. It’s designed to offer inspiration for event managers, event coordinators, moderators and panelists who are tired of the same old format.

This guide includes:

  • Basic panel formats
  • Moderator options
  • Options for questions and comments
  • Ways to break up a panel
  • Panel housekeeping tips
  • Notes on panel size
  • Creative options for panelists
  • Different panel options
  • Panel alternatives
  • Individual presenters
  • Options for two or more presenters

Continue reading The Event Manager’s Guide to Creative Alternatives for Panels