This thread happened mid flight cause I was super irritated by the guy next to me and not being able to sleep as I usually do. Also due to some things that happened at Unplugged and at many, many panels I have been on before. Original twitter thread here, what follows is a slightly edited and cleaned up for typos version in blog format.
On being a good panelist
First off, let’s talk about how much space you take as a panelist. I was on a couple panels where people talked a lot, and took up a lot of space. As a panelist, you should be cognizant of how much you are talking. Know that you do not need to respond to everything posited to the panel, at exhaustive length. The point of a panel is to hear a variety of voices; not just yours.
This heinous panelist crime is usually committed by cis straight white dudes on panels, sometimes white women. Especially egregious when there is little color so to speak among the speakers. If I want to hear just one person on a given topic, I’ll attend a lecture or watch their content. Also talking over someone else or interjecting before anyone else has had a chance to speak on the current question/topic to “add one more thing!” Is irritating as fuck to deal with or witness.
I’ve also been on panels where I/other women/POC/non white queers were spoken over. In my case it cements not wanting to panel with those people ever again. If I want to be spoken over in front of an audience, I’ll just hop on twitter. (That was capital “S” snark, in case you needed clarification) It’s simply entitled and rude AF to think whatever you have to say is so goddamned important that you can’t hold your thought while someone else is speaking.
Special shoutout to the PAX East Panel where I was talked over in the interest of talking about my own works…to me.
On Being a Good Moderator
It’s our job to keep the conversation for the hour (or however much time we have) flowing and pending your topic, to allow for Q&A. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak. You invited them to be up there with you after all, make sure your panelists get at least one moment to show why you did so.
Also, for the love of dog; manage your Q&A! How many panels have folks been at where someone rambles, or has more of a comment than a question? Nip that in the bud at the start of the panel & before starting the Q&A portion of your session. Don’t let folks interject from the audience. Unless you actually want call & response? Nip that in the bud too.
Don’t be afraid to ask where their question is or ask them to move along in the interest of time. * * = being when you may want commentary or if your panel is on a sensitive topic; or you can tell someone is terrified of having gotten in front of a room full of people to talk. Be kind in those situations.
Lastly, be mindful of time even with convention volunteers time keeping in the session room. Learn how to skip around or cut off a chatty panelist that is taking too much space. That last bit is especially relevant when you are running a panel of mostly white panelists with one/few POC. As we’re too easily discounted and dismissed on panels, no matter our expertise.
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