21 insightful questions to ask when moderating your next panel discussion
As a panel moderator, asking insightful and interesting questions is one of your biggest responsibilities.
Tips for Selecting Questions:
- For a 60-minute panel with 4 panelists, choose 4–5 questions from the lists below.
- Panelists should speak for 2–4 minutes in response to questions
- Not every panelist has to address every question
- Leave at least 15 minutes for audience questions
- Consider opening it up to audience questions earlier and if it gets quiet, you can return to some of your prepared questions.
21 Questions to ask when moderating your next panel discussion
While creating questions specifically for your panel is the very best way to make your discussion unique and engaging, sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. (Read more below to find out how to create and crosscheck your questions.)
Here are 21 questions you could ask almost any panel to get it started or to keep it going if you run out of your own questions.
- How can we advance the [field/topic/industry]?
- 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?
- What is the biggest challenge in the [field/topic/industry] at the moment?
- What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?
- What effect has [specific technology] made on the [field/topic/industry]?
- Who is making the greatest advancements in the [field/topic/industry], and what are they doing?
- What is the most interesting trend for 2019?
- What do you think the best outcome for the [audience/industry/planet] would be?
- What is the number one way we can make a substantial difference?
- 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?
- What made you decide to tackle this subject? How did you get into the [industry/field], and why do you stay?
- What are some of the ways people from your [industry/field] are making a difference in the world?
- 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?
- What are common misconceptions people have? How can we combat these misconceptions and communicate more effectively?
- 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?
- A follow-up to the previous question: By way of comparison, do you remember something you’ve done or something you wish everyone was doing, and why?
- 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?
- What question would you like to hear [specific panelist] answer?
- What is one piece of practical advice you would give to someone starting out?
- What is the best resource for people who want to dive in deeper?
- Is there anything we’re leaving out here that needs to be addressed?
- 在您的出版物[書 / 文章/ etc]中，您說過[觀點]。你是怎麼想到的呢？ [跟隨另一位小組成員的問題]：你有不同的觀點嗎？
Create your own questions
When creating your own questions, you need to start with going back to the purpose of your panel. Why are you here, and why should your audience care?
Each question should come back to this and constantly be pushing your panelists towards creating value and insights for your audience.
What kind of questions should you ask?
- 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? Does it have 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?
The Best Questions To Ask At Networking Events
- Where do you recommend I go while I’m here?
- How did you hear about this event?
- What is on your reading list?
- What is your favorite thing to do?
- Where are you from?
- What did you think about the event?
- What is your story?
- How did you decide to do what you do?
- What are some of your go-to resources for getting guidance in your field of work?
- How can I be helpful to you right now?