How to Create a Panel
Panel discussions are different from traditional sessions of platform presentations, in that they consist of only a few speakers who field questions from the audience after briefly introducing themselves. The session is tied together by a specific topic or theme and panelists are selected who have expertise in that area or a unique perspective to offer. The following are some steps and hints for planning and hosting a successful panel session.
- Decide on your topic.Panel topics can be either technical or focused on professional development. Panel topics should be selected which are of interest to your target audience, but also keep in mind you’ll need to identify speakers to serve on the panel.
- Identify individuals to serve on your panel. Panelists should have expertise with or a unique perspective on the selected topic. If you think someone will be great on your panel, the best way to get them on board is to simply ask. People are usually happy to help when asked. Remember to ask them directly and personally when soliciting panelists. It’s best to have your panelists lined up ASAP so that they are definitely available to come to the conference.
- Panel sessions should be submitted to CONFEX at the same time as traditional sessions (before the CFP–about 10-11 months before the conference). Be sure to inform the necessary AIChE Programming chair that this is a panel and not a session, and that you will not be accepting papers for it. It will also be helpful to include the word panel in the session title to make it clear it is not a podium presentation session.
- When you have your panelists confirmed, you can add them as “authors” in your session, so that it is clear to AIChE staff and MPCs that your session is complete.
- As the conference approaches, it is a good idea to send a reminder to your panelists around the time that the CFP closes, to remind them of their commitment and make sure there haven’t been any last minute changes to their plans.
- About a month before the conference, solicit brief biographies from each of your panelists so that you can properly introduce them at the start of the session. At this time you can also confirm the date and time of the panel with them, because the schedule will be finalized by then.
- Prior to starting your panel session greet your panelists and thank them again for agreeing to serve on the panel. Please ensure you know how to pronounce everyone’s name and confirm that their introductions are accurate.
- As you start the session, greet the audience, and describe the format of the session. Briefly introduce your panelists and highlight the specific relevance or expertise they bring to the session. Turn it over to the panelists so they may briefly introduce themselves. Once introductions are completed, open the floor to questions.
- As the session begins to run short on time, indicate to the audience that you only have time for a few more questions. When time is up, ask the audience to thank the speakers with applause.
- After the conference is over, please be sure to follow up with a thank you to all your panelists for their time and expertise.