EYN#025 - Mastering Event Panels: Top Insider Hacks

Mar 12, 2024
Picture of Ben sat on stool with other panel guests at Tech Show London

The perfect panel session feels like a natural conversation, and is packed full of substance and value.


Last week I moderated a panel at Tech Show London, which received great feedback. It inspired me to finally pull together some insider hacks on how to master event panels.

To deliver a great panel session you need great preparation and great improvisation. Here's some insider hacks for both the moderator and panel guest.



You need to drive the discussion, keep to time, be conversational and get some value out. Here's some tips that help you succeed.



  • Meet The Guests Beforehand - Get everyone together virtually or physically if you can.
    • Build some chemistry - If the guests have never met, let's get a feeling of what each person is like.
    • Identify their areas of speciality - Understand the topics they love to talk about
    • Understand the background of your guests - Meet them, check them out on Linked In and you'll know them better.
    • It's all great information that you can use to improvise with during the panel
  • Know Your Timings. - At big events timing is crucial. How long for intros? How long for each question? How long for audience Q+A? Build your plan.
  • Approach to Questions. Do you ask the same question to everyone on the panel or do you ask specific questions to specific people? I prefer the latter approach. You get the best out of each guest, and it's less monotonous for the audience.
  • Share Topics & Flow In Advance. Panel guests get nervous. Panel guests might like to prepare. Help them out so they can be the best version of themselves.
  • Print Your Questions. I like a couple of cards to keep me on point. Here's what I had on stage with me at Tech Show London.




On Stage 

  • Listen. This will elevate your session. Preparation gives you a great foundation. Listening brings the panel to life. Why?
    • Refer. As you drive the conversation refer to the guests answers. It reinforces the message for the audience and makes it conversational.
    • Segue. Use the answer to segue to the next question. "You answered that from an enterprise perspective, I'd love to come to you [other person] for a perspective from a start-up"
  • Pert and Alert. Show you're ready to engage the guests and audience. Stools are great for this. Be careful if you're on a big comfy chair, it's not a Friday night movie marathon.
  • Keep To Time. Keep it moving. Keep it engaging and finish on time.



Panel Guest

You need to provide value to the audience. Valuable information, great insight, perhaps even some entertainment.



  • Ask What Topics Will Be Covered. Freestyling on any topic and giving concise valuable answers is tough. Understand the key themes and topics that will be talked about.
  • Gather Your Thoughts On Key Topics. Less is more. Think about how you discuss the topic with 3 key points. Use them as an anchor for structure and keep you on point.
  • Concise But Not Scripted. Scripts don't work for conversations. However, ensure you can talk about the key topics succinctly but without a script.


On Stage

  • Pert and Alert. As with the moderator role, be ready to engage the guests and audience. Stools are great for this. Be careful if you're on a big comfy chair.
  • Listen. Listening will make your session. Preparation gives you a great foundation. Listening brings your answers to life.
    • Answer the question you've been actually asked.
    • Refer to answers from other panellists and create a holistic panel discussion, not just you answering a question.
  • Less is more. Give insight in way the audience will remember, not a rambling brain dump.
  • Conversation Not Monologue. A great panel feels like a conversation not a monologue, Make an effort to feel like a conversation.


A great panel is the perfect blend of conversation and value. Do your part to prepare and then be prepared to improvise.

Hope this helps



Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:

  • Podcast:  The latest episode is "Social Mobility in Tech" with Neil Marley.  Check it out on the Elevated You website or on  Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
  • Technical Storytelling Essentials: Accelerate your career, increase your impact and influence people.  Affordably priced, world-class course digital course for individuals.
  • Technical Storytelling for Organisations: Programs designed to increase the impact of your team.  Inspire, develop and motivate your team to influence key stakeholders and generate action with your customers.