Industry events are a great platform to raise your corporate profile among key audiences and tell your story in your own words. So, what does it take to get up on stage and be part of the conversation? Adam Webb, Senior Content Manager at IBC tells us what makes a great panel discussion.



Most of us have been there, at an event, watching a panel discussion, interview or keynote and just wishing it would end. But what makes a panel engaging, informative or entertaining? And what makes you regret the time and money you’ve invested to attend?

Turning failure on its head

A good panel shouldn’t be a glorified sales pitch – the audience can see straight through that and instantly disengages. In my experience, having also overseen the programme at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, delegates don’t want to sit through an hour of self-satisfied smugness where people just talk about their successes and achievements. Of course, the reason they’re on the panel is because they are a leader in their field and have achieved success, but it’s vital to drill down further into their story.

Each panel topic will come with a different set of questions. But for a TV show masterclass for example, it’s important to also delve into areas around failure; was there a moment they felt out of their depth? What would they have done differently? How do they deal with negative reviews? Exploring questions around overcoming failure provides a much more rewarding experience for anyone watching.

Keeping it diverse

At IBC, we critique every speaker to make sure they justify their place on a panel debate, masterclass or case study. Will they offer an opinion that hasn’t been heard before? Are they going to be open enough to offer real insight? It’s vital that anyone watching will leave feeling satisfied they’re getting ROI. We’re also keen to make sure the line-up is fresh, forward facing and diverse.

Rightly so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify male only panels, often those events that end up with 5 men on stage lead to an awkward apology from an embarrassed chair, which is met with a ripple of raised eyebrows from members of the audience. We’ve made it our mission to aim for a 50/50 male/female split this year. We’re currently on target with Lindsay Pattison, Chief Transformation Officer, GroupM and WPP Global, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, EVP, CEO of MTG International Entertainment and Lisa Tobin, Executive Producer, Audio at The New York Times, just some of the women joining a brilliant line-up.

Fresh faces

Setting quotas is just part of the solution when aiming for more diversity on stage. If you’re the type of person that recoils in horror at the thought of getting up in front of an audience, you might be just the kind of person people would relish hearing from. For too long conferences and events have played it lazily safe by recruiting the same seasoned speakers. Go to any number of events on the same theme and you’re likely to see the same old faces on stage.

Getting involved in an event like IBC is a great way to speak directly to an audience, giving you the opportunity to tell your story in your own words or offer insight and knowledge in an area of expertise. The more people that put themselves up for these experiences and are brave enough to offer honest insight, the more diverse stories are heard from the widest possible pool of voices – and the less yawns from the audience.

The IBC Conference 2018 is taking place in Amsterdam, 13th – 17th September