Panelist 101 Series: Part 1


Panelist 101: Part 1, Forge Thy Panel

If you’re like the average con crawler, I’m assuming you are if you found this blog, you probably have entertained the idea of becoming a panelist.

May be you saw a Character Q&A panel and thought, ” I could totally do this better”.

Or was it that one “How to jumpstart your Career” panel that peeked your interest?

Then let me tell you now, planning is half the battle. Actually pulling off a great panel or workshop, is a whole other animal. I would love to show you how to tackle this in a 3 part post of Panelist 101 series.

SO, where do you start?

Like any major decision in life, you need to know where it is you want to go with this. Start by looking at the conventions that you enjoy the most. Nothing helps motivation more than being passionate about your hobby.

What sort of attendees are there? Is it heavily Sci- Fi or more reality based? Is it foreign  film media or is it more in the cartoon realm like, say Japanese Animation or 80s nostalgia, Tex Avery style?

Once that’s determined, consider what sort of panels have become staples for your favorite conventions, but you don’t see too often these days.

But, why think of panels that’ve been done before?

Well, you know that saying, “Don’t reinvent the wheel, improve it”.  This’ll help you gauge what interest might be driven towards your panel, right now its at the idea stage. It’s also a great way to know ahead of time what sort of panel won’t be accepted at your chosen convention, because “Jane or Kevin” has always done it for years.

Also, it helps to keep in mind that what will working at a Star Trek convention, might not draw the same crowd for, say a Horror convention. You will have to do some major adjustments to fit the situation, but it can be done!

Okay, now what?

Think bubble.

If you can find a video or comments online about a panel/ workshop that’s similar to your idea, try branching off other concepts that could be of interest for a panel like yours.

For example, say you found a workshop based on developing worlds in literature. You could branch off, how to develop an origin story for major characters, creating a common link between series and back to the original, or you could start a roundtable of discussion for the breakdown of fictional languages based on real world tongues.

The possibilities are endless, but try to narrow down at least 3 that could realistically be done with your level of knowledge. Remember, you have to convince the Programming staff that you, A.) Know what your talking about and B.) it makes sense to have as a panel at their convention.

Another helpful tool after narrowing down your think bubble options, breaking down the needs of your panel. My favorite go to pages to use for this come from Steven Savage’s book which also has some great advice and strategies for creating panels, ” Convention Career Connection” ,going for $4.99 on Amazon Kindle.

Tune in next time for part 2 of Panelist 101.

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