I love attending panels. The topic isn’t as important, but the discussion is. Attending a talk with one individual is great, but if you have a few people with different points of view to bring their knowledge to the table, even better.
I attended one in particular called Panel on Panels thanks to Alex Blom. Now, sounds like a joke, right? Maybe so. As entertaining as it was, I actually learned a few things, not only about attending a panel discussion, but also how to go about running a successful panel, from being a moderator to organizing one to being a panelist. I was reminded of this event when I attended a panel at FITC Toronto because the moderator, Jason Theodor was so well prepared. If they have another one, I’ll be first in line.
One thing I’ve learned on my own: always have a question to ask. You may have one prepped from before based on your research or maybe from something that is said during the main discussion. I have a favourite that I like to ask of every panel I attend. I figured it out while attending a discussion on mentorship presented by Women in Information Technology Management (WITM) at my alma mater, the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. I had graduated from the program a couple of years earlier and there were a number of current students in the room. I asked of the panel: “If there was one source, such as a book, blog, website, etc.) that you would recommend to everyone in the room, for whatever reason, what would it be and why?”. I’ve gotten some pretty interesting answers, but a couple of weeks ago at FITC Toronto, I asked one panelist after the presentation this question and got a surprising answer. The topic of the discussion had been about creativity and I asked the engineer of the team who was originally from the Soviet Union, Dr. Ivan Poupyrev. His answer: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky because (and I’m paraphrasing) Dostoevsky knows how to tell a story of angst and the trials and tribulations of life. A real story about suffering. Of course I’ve heard of the book, but know it’s on my list to read.
Though I’ve never participated on a panel (it is on my bucket list), I really had to think hard about what my own response would be. It took me a while, but then I figured it out: TED. It is full ow wonderful and amazing stories that teach, among other things, that anything is possible. If you want an eye-opening experience or need inspiration, Check it out. If you get me on a panel some day, ask me that question and I’ll tell you about my favourite TED Talk.