Friday, October 29, 2010

Serving on Panels, the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I've been on and observed lots of panels at mystery conferences over the years and I've seen some great ones and some that had real problems.

Just for fun I'll tell you about the bad and ugly.

Recently, I saw one of the panelists and the moderator chit chatting while other panelists were trying to give their view on a question. It happened more than one.

I was once on a panel where once each of the panelists introduced ourselves, the moderator did all the rest of the talking--we never had a chance to speak again.

Another time I was on a panel with two superstars (famous mystery writers, at least far more famous than I am) and the moderator never even turned in my direction. The two superstars spoke back and forth between each other. I tried to inject a funny comment now and then.

Once the moderator, a rather pompous man, asked questions using such big words and long sentences, I had no idea what he was asking--neither did the other panelists. When it was my turn, I just said what ever I wanted about my book. Later, one of the other authors asked me, "How did you know what he asked?" I told him "I didn't have a clue."

On to the Good:

A moderator who has read the books that the other authors have written in order to be able to ask good questions--and has the questions prepared ahead of time. This isn't always possible if there's not enough time. In that case, the moderator should go to each author's website and form some questions from the information there.

Even as a panelist, I've tried to read my fellow panelists books and/or read about them on their websites.

A moderator who has plenty of questions to ask and give everyone who wants to a questions to answer them.

A good panelist is one who answers the questions, but knows when to shut-up and doesn't try to monopolize the panel. This is a good way to alienate people in the audience--it will not entice them to buy your book.

If the moderator sent questions ahead of time, a good panelists has some answers already prepared. He or she will not read them, but will have a clue how to answer the question.

I like being a moderator and a panelist--and I try to follow my own advice.

Marilyn

5 comments:

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, I attended a mystery writer's panel once and the moderator dominated the show. He even insisted on one author reading a different passage than the author had chosen.

Monti said...

You've had a lot of experience, Marilyn. Thanks for sharing!

Monti
NotesAlongTheWay

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

A panel can be fun or miserable. Lots better to be on one that's fun. Thanks for your comments, Ricky and Monti.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, there are always people who love the sound of their own voices. (:

It's tough to get stuck on a panel with them, and I don't know what can be done about it -- except not to ask them back again.

Does anyone ever just get up and walk out?

Pat Browning

Sue McGinty said...

Right on, Marilyn. I've had all those experiences, good and bad, on panels.