Congratulations! You’ve been asked to moderate a business panel. You’re thrilled with the trust given, as well as the opportunity to learn from the best in business. But your excitement brings uncertainty, too. After all, the responsibility of managing a public dialogue can be an intimidating prospect. Don’t worry—the most important thing you can do as a panel moderator is to be prepared with thought-provoking questions that bring out the best in your guest speakers.
Below, we’ve assembled questions for moderators to ask panelists at conferences, conventions, virtual training sessions or other events. These include questions for:
- Business success and entrepreneurship panels
- Sales training panels
- Leadership panels
- Corporate culture and productivity panels
- Marketing and communications panels
Moderators: how to prepare your questions
Before diving into our questions for moderators, consider what makes a good question. Our lists are meant as a starting point, but keep the following best practices in mind:
- Research your guests carefully. Know the backgrounds and expertise areas of your panelists well enough to ask poignant questions.
- Customize your questions based on your research. Rather than ask, “What was your greatest challenge starting your business?” refer to the actual business (book, event or other topic) by name.
- Start with basics as necessary. Depending on the depth of guest introductions, you may want to dig more. Questions such as “How did you get your start?” or “What first inspired your new product line?” are assumed and not included in the lists below.
- Follow the rule of two or three. Asking “What is the most important rule in business?” will lead to broad or even cliched replies, and asking for long lists will leave your guests struggling or even annoyed. Ask for two or three items, and follow up!
Questions to ask when moderating a business panel
Business success and entrepreneurship panels
- How has technology changed the landscape of entrepreneurship, and how can entrepreneurs best leverage this technology for success?
- What has changed most in the business landscape in the past few years? What has stayed mostly the same?
- What was the greatest unexpected challenge you faced in starting [company name]? How should future entrepreneurs best prepare to face this challenge?
- How have the best methods for raising capital changed in the past decade? What has remained much the same?
- Innovative and disruptive industries or products often have no existing demand. How do you mitigate risk in your innovation when there is a lack of market data?
- How have technological advances in the past three years impacted [your company] at operational or logistical levels?
- What strategies have you used in recent years to overcome materials [or talent] shortages?
- What are the two or three most useful lessons you have learned to maintain an advantage over your competition?
Sales training panels
- How do your sales teams’ motivational strategies differ between peak times and slow times? [Good for seasonal businesses.]
- What is the greatest obstacle you or your sales team face in nurturing a potential client from a prospect to a sale? What effective strategies do you use to overcome resistance barriers?
- What have you found to be the most and least effective digital tools in developing strong leads?
- Sales teams can have high burnout rates. How do you assist individual sales team members in overcoming self-limiting mindsets?
- What are the most effective methods you use to retain your top sales staff?
- What tools and strategies have you found to be most effective in identifying a potential client?
- What are the current strengths of your sales team, and what do you want to improve in the coming year?
- When it comes to increasing sales figures, do you lean more heavily on competition or cooperation among your team? And what training or incentive strategies have worked best to keep that balance?
- What qualities do you look for prior to advancing an employee to a leadership position, and what steps do you take to test and prepare them?
- Describe your leadership style and practices and how they have benefited [your company]. What areas do you still want to improve?
- What two or three characteristics or values have you found that make the most effective leaders? How do those values benefit the organization?
- What strategies or processes have you found effective in balancing creativity and innovation among your team members while also maintaining time-tested procedures?
- Tell us about the challenges faced by introverts in obtaining and excelling in leadership roles. How do you help a talented introvert improve their networking skills?
- What do you like most about being in a leadership role? And what have you found the most challenging?
- Did leadership come naturally to you, or was it a struggle? What lessons did you learn along the way to become a better leader?
- How do you measure success, both in yourself and among your team members?
Corporate culture and productivity panels
- What do you see as the main benefits of a corporate wellness program? What has worked best in your company?
- Once a positive corporate culture is established, it needs maintenance. What are the top two or three methods you use to make sure your corporate culture sticks?
- How do you measure the costs and benefits of employee health and wellness programs, both short- and long-term?
- What methods or strategies do you use to ensure a corporate culture of diversity and inclusion?
- What are the signals you watch for that an employee has either disengaged or may be seeking another position? How do you re-engage and motivate them?
- What practices have worked best for your company to maintain a collaborative team environment even among remote workers?
- What strategies do you use to ensure that employees maintain optimal mental health? Also, how do you promote physical health without stepping over personal lines?
- What are the most important steps a company leader [human resources or other] can take to ensure that employees feel appreciated and remain productive?
Marketing and communications panels
- What are the top three marketing channels you use today, and how do they compare in terms of prospect volume and quality?
- What strategies do you use to keep you and your team up-to-date on marketing trends and technology?
- When do you start planning for a branding refresh? What are the early signals that it’s time to take the marketing of a product line in a new direction?
- What strategies and tools do you use to increase client engagement and retention? How do they compare in terms of cost and benefit?
- Tell us about a marketing campaign or initiative that did not work well for you. Did you make adjustments or scrap the campaign entirely?
- What are the differences you see between advertising, marketing, public relations and communications? Where do they overlap?
- What are the biggest changes you have seen in the digital marketing landscape in the past year or two? How have they impacted your overall outreach strategy?
- What are two or three of the greatest lessons you didn’t expect to learn in your time as a marketing director with [company]?
Stay up-to-date with the Success Speakers Bureau
Once you’ve had a taste of public speaking, it’s likely that you’ll want more. You might even consider a career as a future SUCCESS speaker! Or learn more from top keynote speakers and coaches making a global impact today.
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