Create a More Intimate Panel Discussion

Panel discussions are a great way for experts and featured guests to share their knowledge both with your audience and each other. But what if the standard straight line of seminar tables and tabletop microphones just seems a bit too formal for the occasion?

Try using some couches or soft chairs instead. Place them on a riser or stage in an arc facing the audience, and use lavalier or wireless handheld microphones rather than tabletops or stand-ups. Floral arrangements and candles help to create a warm and friendly atmosphere as well. Just remember to keep arrangements small and short, so that they don’t block your speakers’ faces or distract the audience.

For more ideas and solutions to your meeting challenges, contact UCLA Conference & Catering Services.


“Women, Wealth, and Wisdom” at UCLA’s Covel Commons, May 2010


2 thoughts on “Create a More Intimate Panel Discussion

  1. Interesting timing for a posting on the panelist format for a meeting. Michael McCurry just posted a new blog on this topic.

    I would suggest that rather than making a panel more “intimate”, you blast through the confines of a traditional panel format altogether and make it a “Candid Conversation” or “Town Hall” type of presentation in order to maximize the education and engagement of the audience.

    But, lacking the opportunity to work with a client who gets this, it certainly does make a difference to try to fuse the panelists with the audience in front of them…

    And I’m so happy you mentioned the riser – not much more frustrating than attending a panel conversation where you can’t seen anyone’s face 🙂 An excellent alternative, if budget allows, is to place the panelists in the round with IMAG to display their faces to the entire audience.

  2. Hi Midori 🙂

    We’ll have to check out Michael’s post for more good tips!

    You’re right, it’s always great to encourage clients to break out of the traditional panel format, but there are definitely still ways to keep a panel engaging and informative. I love your idea of using IMAG to make sure everyone’s face is visible.

    Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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