Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

How To Form A Brexit Panel Discussion


The challenges that are facing the European Union and Brexit are quite vast which is why there are so many opinions about them. Since the debate has started, many heated arguments have been expressed opposing both sides.

As more people want to have their voice heard, many organizations are working towards starting more panel discussions so that these ideas can be expressed in a more civil and controlled manner. If you are interested in forming your own Brexit panel discussion, here are some things to keep in mind:

What is a panel discussion?

A discussion panel is a discussion format facing a public or in private, in which there is a table or panel of guests whose opinion on a specific and determined subject you want to hear. These guests are called panellists.

"Panellists take turns speaking in an organized manner around a topic in which they can bring different perspectives and reasons" says Dan Smith of Keynote Speakers. "They are usually coordinated by a mediator or moderator who generally does not express his opinion or reserves a middle or neutral point."

The public, likewise, generally refrains from participating in the debate, unless it is given a choice (usually at the end) of questions or comments.

Panel discussions are common in political debates in media communication or debates specialized, and they can be addressed in all kinds topics: scientific , legal, moral , etc.

Types of discussion board

The discussion panel format can be of various types, according to the character of their panellists:

1. Specialized. The guest panel is made up of professionals who are specialists in the field, such as scientists, academics, etc.

2. Public. The guest panel is made up of people of diverse extraction and characteristics, chosen at random, such as trial juries.

3. Mixed. A panel of guests that combines the specialized presence with the popular one.

What is a panel discussion for?

The discussion panels are friendly, safe, but at the same time formal spaces for addressing issues that may well be controversial and in other ways difficult to address.

"A panel discussion brings together appropriate voices for discussion and questions can be asked" says John Rogan of Motivational Speakers. "Respecting the response time, an attempt is made to present the matter from points of view that may well be very different or contradictory to each other."

Basic structure of a panel discussion

The discussion panels are usually made up of three to five members, with seven being the maximum acceptable for the debate to be operational and not disorganized.

A panel discussion is estimated to last around two hours, with each panellist having an equal amount of time available (between 10 and 15 minutes), to present their perspective to the best of their ability. To do this, they must avoid detours and ramblings.

After the presentation phase, a discussion or debate phase begins, in which questions are formulated (by the moderator, the public or the panellists themselves). The exchange of opinions, the interruption and the reply are allowed, as long as the rules of organized exchange of ideas are respected.

Panel discussion elements

As we said, every discussion panel is made up of:

1. Panellists. People whose knowledge, perspectives or know-how make them suitable to address a topic, and who therefore constitute qualified voices to explain, demonstrate or debate it.

2. Moderator or coordinator. A director of the debate whose position on the subject must be neutral or, in any case, must not influence the dynamics of the same. Objectively maintains the rules of discussion and respecting equal opportunities.

3. Public. All those individuals who witness the debate and who may or may not participate in it at a certain time that allows it.

Purpose of the panel discussion

The objective of a panel discussion is a complete, diverse and comprehensive approach to a topic .

Your second objective may be to explain it in greater depth, reach a more or less reconciliatory or unanimous position, or simply explore in an informed way the problems that the issue raises.

"The bottom line is that the discussion must achieve some form of objective or goal" says Sean Adams of Motivation Ping. "Otherwise, the panel has not served its purpose."

Differences with a round table

A round table is distinguished from a panel discussion in which all its participants participate in the debate , without distinguishing their level of expertise.

It is a debate in which everyone is equal and has the same opportunity to intervene , discussing the different approaches until reaching some kind of consensus. This is a less structured method of discussion.

Discussion panel example

Examples of discussion panels are those that take place in parliaments during the debate on laws , on television programs about controversial issues, or in discussion forums that are organized at trade fairs and specialized events.

Importance of debating techniques

Debate techniques are, above all, tools for dialogue. They allow the opportunity to address issues of a different nature in a civilized and organized way.

Thanks to them, it is possible to avoid being carried away by the passions that can arouse controversial issues , putting the power of conviction and the word before any other form of discrepancy.

They are opportune mechanisms to, in addition, promote verbal reasoning, the logic of dialogue and therefore tolerance towards positions contrary to one's own.

If you are going to be on the panel, then it is important that you prepare yourself.

How to organize a panel discussion?

When organizing a discussion panel, first of all it is advisable to define the rules that will govern it , and to which the moderator must adhere. The moderator and the invited experts must know these rules, and the times of each stage must be respected, as well as the right to speak of each one.

Each stage of the debate should be conducted by the moderator only. It is also advisable to prepare the possible questions in advance , spatially design the place of the debate and have all the necessary elements in order not to stop it during its development.

Tips for conducting a panel discussion

Some tips for moderating or coordinating a panel discussion are:

A. Introduce the panellists at the beginning of the event and briefly before their first intervention.

B. Quickly explain what the structure of the discussion will be and when questions will be allowed, etc.

C. Try to coordinate the right to speak and reply to avoid everyone speaking at the same time.

D. Try to translate into accessible language the conclusions reached by an exponent, when you ask him questions.

E. Try to preserve order and respect throughout the debate. 

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Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
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