Tired of boring panel discussions?

Yeh – me too!

At the recent National Speakers Association Influence 2021 Conference we shook things up a bit by creating an “unplugged” version of the association’s podcast as a session on the main stage. This panel discussion on steroids was a great addition to the program and created evergreen content. You can listen here:


Want to leverage a panel discussion at your next event?

Here are 3 tips:

  • Get a great facilitator like Thom Singer to moderate! Not only is Thom a skilled emcee, he hosts several podcasts and has conducted about 1000 interviews. He knows how to spotlight guests and make them comfortable enough to get below the surface of topics.
  • Choose a relevant and timely topic – this panel was about the roles a professional emcee plays and successful strategies for masters of ceremonies.
  • Bring together experts on that topic – thanks to Omekongo Dibinga, Patty Hendrickson, and Jeff Civillico for the great discussion and for completely knocking our socks off at during the conference.

How do you leverage an emcee for your next conference?

Here are some best practices:

  • Understand the different roles an emcee can play as a driver, producer, connector and WOW. You can find a more in-depth discussion in this Conference Talks Show Episode.
  • Bring your emcee in early. The sooner the emcee joins the team, the sooner they can start taking some of the load off your shoulders.
  • Invest. Expect to spend about a third of your speaker budget on an emcee or team of emcees, especially for hybrid and multi-day events. A professional emcee starts work long before the lights come up. Whether it is recommending great speakers and resources, preparing your non-professional speakers to take the stage, or working out the fine points in the run of show – your emcee is there to make the event engaging and smooth.
  • Define success. As I said during the panel/podcast – if my event professional got to have a sandwich and some sleep during the event, that to me is a mark of success. It means I’ve done my job handling onstage and backstage challenges, usually without anyone noticing.

Want to elevate your panels or engage an emcee for your next event? Let’s talk!


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