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The 2-minute panelist

June 4, 2017

Panels suffer from a number of problems. We don’t hear enough from stronger panelists. They’re not very diverse. They’re poorly moderated. They can be a snooze if all panelists share similar answers and ideas.

The last few times I’ve served as a panelist, I gave myself a time limit of 2 minutes. I wanted to be fair to fellow panelists (not every moderator keeps long-winded participants or even questioners in line). I also wanted to get to the damn point.

I’m as guilty as anyone of long-windedness, my golden voice ringing gloriously in my ears. This would be a fix.

I set a 2-minute timer on my phone and kept an eye on it while weighing in. It forced me to be succinct and punchy. After all, if I wanted to make an impression, I needed to make those 120 seconds memorable.

(I didn’t bother timing the other panelists — but they went way over 2 minutes, not that any such restriction was in place.)

Trust me, 2 minutes is more than sufficient time to answer a reasonable question thrown at a panel.

I found audience members would come up to me afterward and quote my best responses. That’s great feedback.

Try it sometime, even if you’re not bound for a panel. Putting care into our answers makes us more engaging and more ready to listen to someone else’s followup.

• • •

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