21 insightful questions to ask when moderating your next panel discussion (plus some great tips on creating your own)

21 Questions to ask when moderating your next panel discussion

  1. How can we advance the [field/topic/industry]?
  2. How has the [field/topic/industry] changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?
  3. What is the biggest challenge in the [field/topic/industry] at the moment?
  4. What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?
  5. What effect has [specific technology] made on the [field/topic/industry]?
  6. Who is making the greatest advancements in the [field/topic/industry], and what are they doing?
  7. What is the most interesting trend for 2018?
  8. What do you think the best outcome for the [audience/industry/planet] would be?
  9. What is the number one way we can make a substantial difference?
  10. In your publication [book/article/etc] you stated that [view point]. How did you come to that? [Follow up question to another panelist]: Do you have a different perspective?
  11. What made you decide to tackle this subject? How did you get into the [industry/field], and why do you stay?
  12. What are some of the ways people from your [industry/field] are making a difference in the world?
  13. What has helped you get to where you are [influential/effective/in the forefront] and what advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?
  14. What are common misconceptions people have? How can we combat these misconceptions and communicate more effectively?
  15. Do you remember a specific experience of where you wished that [you/your organization/your industry] had done something differently? If you were to do it over, what would you change?
  16. A follow-up to the previous question: By way of comparison, do you remember something you’ve done, something you wish everyone was doing, and why?
  17. What’s the question you are most tired of hearing on this subject, and what would you like to say about it so you never have to answer it again?
  18. What question would you like to hear [specific panelist] answer?
  19. What is one piece of practical advice you would give to someone starting out?
  20. What is the best resource for people who want to dive in deeper?
  21. Is there anything we’re leaving out here that needs to be addressed?

Create your own questions

  • What will the audience be interested in learning about?
  • Will this question draw upon the panelist’s experiences in a useful way?
  • Is this question open-ended or will you get a simple “yes” or “no” answer?
  • Will the question start a deeper conversation or has the potential to spark a debate?
  • Is this question something you can’t easily find the answer to on the internet?
  • Why is this particular panelist on the panel? What unique perspective can they add? How can you draw that out?

Question Checklist

  • Clearly tied to the topic being discussed.
  • Reflective of the panelists’ perspectives, experiences, or interests.
  • Addressing the issues, challenges or interests of the audience.
  • An important topic to discuss right now.
  • Going to ignite a conversation (controversial/different perspectives or experiences).

Where do you start? Opening questions

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