E-venting posts about finding interesting patterns in session evaluations. Given all the complaints we hear about the moderated panel format being a dinosaur, the results that E-venting posts are quite surprising.
When the session was a Panel Presentation (where speakers prepared individual or a collective presentation), the Session Score was almost always higher than the Speaker Average.
When the session was a Roundtable Discussion (where 3-5 speakers conversed without a presentation), the Session Score was almost always lower than the Speaker Average.
Why would this be? Here's their opinion:
I think it's due to two reasons:
1. Increasingly, conference audiences want something tactical they can benefit from immediately upon returning to their desks. Panel presentations -
despitebecause of their uninspired outline-driven, bullet-pointed format DO provide some clear take-aways.
2. Conference attendees warm to a session where the speakers show enough respect for their audience to actually create a physical work product by way of preparation. The audience knows they're not just showing up, speaking their mind, and splitting. Sessions that respect the audience score better.
Interesting, but it begs the question on the age of the audience and the type of content being presented (scientific/engineering/medical/business?). Regardless, I wouldn't have thought this would be the case for any audience under 35 or so. And even myself, at 49, prefer a lot of give and take in sessions.
IMO, panel presentations do not have to be "uninspired". The ones I've been involved with the past couple of years have been extremely entertaining and pretty dynamic - lots of room for personality, going off-topic and dealing directly with specific audience situations (although these have followed the "collective" presentation model, not individual presentations). I believe successful panels require the moderator having enough confidence in his/her panel and the moderation skills to know when to give up control and when to take it back.