When I go to conventions and trade organizations, I look forward to meeting people and learning new things. I like the breakout sessions especially when they have an expert speaker talk on a specific topic. Many breakout sessions like to use the panel format and I write this blog today with the hope that someone in government will read it and agree with my viewpoint on panels, and then pass a national law making it a crime to run a panel presentation, appear in a panel, or sit in the audience and listen to a panel. Can we do that in the next legislative session?
Panels are a huge waste of time and intellect. Have you ever noticed how the panel discussion always starts with each member of the panel introducing themselves and telling us a “bit about what they do.” I don’t care too much about what they do. I can read it in a pamphlet. And, I object to a 50 minute panel discussion wasting 10-15 minutes with introductions. I’m not there to learn how you got this job.
Then there is panel etiquette, which means that everyone on the panel has to try to agree with what everyone else said, as if they are all representing the same parents. Give me some diverse points of view. That might help me understand the subject matter a lot better. But, everyone is just too damn polite to do that. They have to point out “like my colleague here next to me said….” Blah, blah, and more blah.
Then there’s the need of everyone on the panel to answer every question that is posed by the moderator. I suppose if they were all offering new and different points of view that would be interesting, but they are all agreeing with each other (see above). By the time we have listened to the entire panel respond to even a single question, the session is half over and I got nothing out of it. Enough all ready.
And how often do you see the moderator take charge of the session and really drill down for rich information? Never. Or, have you ever seen a moderator reign in the participants so they simply answer the question? Never. How about a moderator challenging someone’s point of view? Ditto. Everyone is playing nice. Which is not nice.
I would so much rather hear any one of those panelist run a breakout session alone and build a case for her point of view instead of engaging in all of this superficial blather. It would allow for much better audience participation. We’d have plenty of time to explore the same issue that the panel wasted the day not talking about.
I can’t wait until the law changes.