Episode 017 — Plan to Punt and How to Run a Panel


This Week’s Tip: Plan to Punt

It would be great if speakers always got the amount of time they thought they would get when they arranged to speak. If they did, they could easily cover all the content in a well designed presentation. The problem is that often, the amount of time a speaker has will change at the last minute. To effectively manage your public speaking engagements, know ahead of time what to punt.
Whether you lose time due to other speakers going over, the audience needing a break, or even an awesome question, you can be a more effective speaker if you know what to cut ahead of time. Have a plan so your audience doesn’t see you scrambling. Remember, it’s better to cut material and give the remaining material the attention it deserves than it is to burn through slides in a blur.

Break Comments

This week (April 17) I joined Jon Clarke on his podcast Caffeinated Comics. If you enjoy geeky and nerdy stuff, check it out. We talk about Doctor Who, Star Wars, MST3K, and more. You can learn more about Caffeinated Comics on Facebook here, and you can check out the blog and all the episodes here.

Post Tip Discussion

Spring time is the start of convention season. Whether the conferences that pop up are fan based, industry based, or corporate based, they are a great chance to get together to learn new things and meet new people. A staple of the convention is the panel discussion.
A panel discussion is a different type of public speaking. Usually 3 or more speakers or experts will be on the stage at a table, while one person hosts and moderates the panel. The job of the moderator is to keep the conversation moving, to ensure the speakers can share their perspectives, and to manage the audience Q&A. It requires a specific set of skills.
This week, Jon Clarke returns to 2 Minute Talk Tips to teach us how to moderate a panel. Jon is a freelance writer, director, and copywriter with nearly 20 years of experience in the advertising industry. His portfolio includes work for Verizon, Lenovo, Jim Beam, and some of the country’s leading pharmaceutical companies. On weekends he is Bono for Without U2, the popular Midwest U2 cover band.
As a pop culture expert, Jon has moderated panels at science fiction conventions, written a comic book, produced YouTube videos that have reached hundreds of thousands of viewers, and performed as a Stand-Up Comedian in New York. In 2013 he launched the Caffeinated Comics podcast, reporting on all the geeky activities in the Chicagoland area. He previously appeared on Episode 003 of 2 Minute Talk Tips.
You can learn more about and engage with Jon here:

Here are 10 tips Jon shares in this interview:

  1. If the panel is about the history of a topic, be sure to pick out a few dates you can go to if you need to move the discussion along
  2. If it’s a stylistic panel, and the conversation is going in only one direction, try flipping it around and asking, “What’s the opposite of that?”
  3. Before the panel, make sure you check Google or Wikipedia to see what they have to say about the other panel members
  4. Remember, it’s not your place to tell stories. It’s your place to listen to stories
  5. Be in the moment
  6. Don’t ask questions just because you wrote them. Follow the actual conversation
  7. Limit follow-ups during Q&A so the audience member doesn’t become an unofficial member of the panel
  8. Wrap up the panel buy summarizing the common theme that’s come out of it because a conversation has just been created. What will we take with us?
  9. Ask the guests, “How do we find you online?”
  10. Thank the audience


Call to Action


  • What do you think makes a great panel host? What has been your favorite panel discussion? Tell us in the comments below or leave a voice mail at 650-Talk-Tip (650-825-5847)
  • Subscribe to 2 Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app and tell a friend
  • Consider what to punt before your next presentation
  • Don’t get best…get better.

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