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Panel Discussions

What are panel discussions? How are they carried out? What are the features? All questions are answered here.

A panel discussion is kind of a debate carried out in front of an audience by a group of people (usually more than three). These people are well-versed in the topic being debated. The goal of the panel discussion is to inform the public about a particular problem or issue. Panel discussions are not like simple declamations or parliamentary speeches. Therefore, great care needs to be taken when carrying out panel discussions. Following are the guidelines:

Focus on a single issue/problem/topic so that the discussion does not become chaotic and is led in an organised way.

Choose only those speakers who are well-versed and highly knowledgeable about the topic. This is because they will face sheer opposition not only from the other panelists but also face questions from the audience.

Panelists should be given time to prepare. It could be as short as fifteen minutes and as long as several weeks depending on the complexity of the topic.

Choose a moderator who is impartial and who is able to smoothly lead a panel discussion from the beginning till the end without flaring up any of the sides.

Create time limits. Each panellist should be given equal time to speak without any interference.

After all the debaters have spoken, allow time for the audience to ask questions from them.

Do not forget to introduce the panelists and their expertise at the beginning of the debate.

Conclude properly. Take into account both sides of the coin and give a logical, thought-provoking conclusion. It is not necessary to take sides. A summary of the whole debate is also necessary.

At the end, thank the panelists and the audience.

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