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Panel Discussion at Web 2.0, Everyone Agrees?!

Posted by on April 28, 2008

Don’t get me wrong I had a great time at the expo and met a lot of great people. However, one thing that really irked me was some of the panel discussions. Let’s take the facebook marketing best practices panel. I do not remember all 4 panelists and the companies they represented but I think one of them was Avenue A. Jeremiah Owyang (from Forrester) was the moderator and did a good job.

So there I am sitting in a room full of people listening to Jeremiah ask some interesting questions about best practices and strategies for facebook marketing. Now I am sitting there thinking that these 4 companies must have 4 different strategies, 4 different opinions, and 4 different methodologies…boy was I wrong. Most of the questions that Jeremiah asked were responded to with either identical answers or head nods from the panel members. Now I am sure the folks up there were smart and qualified, but do I really want to go to a panel where everyone just agrees with each other? I go to a panel to here a difference of opinion, I want disagreement, I want to hear differentiation. You cannot possible expect me to believe that all 4 of the speakers up there, all have the exact same ideas and ways for doing things.

If you are going to have a group of 4 panelists act as one person, then why not just have one person present the topic? Jeremiah could have easily answered his own questions (and in fact did at one point). It was just a bit frustrating to hear the same thing over and over again from the panel members. I hope that the next panel discussion I attend will actually have panel members who DISAGREE with each other. I am not saying they need to argue with one another and start throwing chairs at one another (that would be entertaining) but, it would be nice to hear them debate a little bit, don’t you think?

Would you want to go to a panel discussion where everyone agrees with each other?

Thanks for reading everyone

  • Two things:

    a. I now realize that to get a more dynamic panel discussion the moderator needs to be in contact with each panelist well in advance and get the wheels rolling towards a debate rather than a “what he/she said” session

    b. everyone needs to know the rules of engagement – I was at one session where a panelist tried to get a bit of a debate going and the person he engaged with took serious umbrage, so the rest of the session had a negative, not a productive, tension – think world championship wrestling not a pub fight

  • Hi Des,

    You are quite correct. After the panel discussion I spoke with Jeremiah and told him that he should have almost made the panelists feel uncomfortable. I would have looked at all four of the panelists square in the eyes and said, “you’re kidding right? you can’t all be doing the exact same thing here.”

    There is nothing wrong with some friendly debate, I mean everyone has an opinion. Panelists should expect to engage in some sort of a debate, if they are that thin skinned that they get offended at the sign of confrontation then they either have no idea what they are talking about, or should not be sitting at the panel table with the big boys.

    Knowing the rules of engagement is definitely a good idea, but I like to push the envelope 🙂

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