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.
Panel on The Secrets of Creation at FITC
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.