The panel discussion format at events is so ubiquitous it’s come to feel boring. That’s a mistake. The format can be effective. It’s just routinely done badly.
At its core, a panel is just meant to be a conversation. Nobody hates conversations that are lively, honest and informative. The problem, then, is in execution not format. One of the key features is the moderator.
You won’t have too many people for the event you’re hosting. Make a bet on it.
Many of us will host events at some point in our lives — choosing a date, creating some programming and inviting people to come. I do quite a bit of this, some 50 events a year for work, a dozen or more a year for social groups I’m a member of and maybe that many among friends or one-off special get-to-gethers.
Often you might hear someone express frustration with the delicate balance, that you don’t want too few people there but you also can’t have too many. I’m here to help you: in very nearly every case, it’s better to have too many people than too few so that’s exactly how you should optimize. Don’t waste energy worrying whether you have too many people coming.
I’m thankful I was included in a salon-style dinner among a dozen Philadelphia city creative and philanthropic leaders at the historic Waterworks restaurant. The prompt for the conversation over dinner was the ‘maker economy.’
The discussion focused on Philadelphia but clearly the themes tie to a lot of cities around the world today: how do we build a broad future economy? The conversation was off-the-record, but there were a few topics interesting enough to be worth sharing without attribution.
How will the world change in the next 5 years? That is the prompt for the annual ‘Non-Obvious Dinner’ organized by Jeff Rollins and Ben duPont, two entrepreneurship leaders whom I’ve come to meet in launching Technical.ly Delaware.
I was among 100 guests invited by the pair to the historic Wilmington Club earlier this month asked to arrive with an answer to that question. First, over dinner, we shared at tables of 10, and we chose the best at our table to present to the entire group, and one was chosen as the most interesting and believable way the world would change in the next five years. (here is another idea from someone who attended last year)
Event production is stressful, chaotic and labor-intensive. It is also an act in designed collision. There is a lot of learning to be done in all of these ways.
This Friday will kickoff the fourth annual Philly Tech Week Presented by AT&T, far and away the largest collaborative effort in which I have ever taken part. To track what I’m learning in the process, I pulled five of the more than 130 events happening during the week from which I believe I’m learning the most.
Define the mission underpinning the work of your news organization, and then allow yourself to experiment with new and potentially better ways of telling stories.
That’s my interest in finding new innovative storytelling methods, and so I was excited by the chance to share examples with nearly 100 reporters and educators who visited a session I cohosted during a national news innovation conference in Atlanta last week.
As is custom, I shared beforehand some questions I wanted to ask the group, and while we didn’t get to all of them because we got into some good conversations, I figured I’d share my perspective on those questions.