5 Scary Things about Being a First Time Panelist

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

Pulse Racing.

Palms sweating.

Voice losing moments.

Allow me to share my five scary things that did happen when I was a first-time panelist. It might not be an actual “naked in front of a the class” level of drama, but these things were still the wooorrrsst things to happen my first year.

Starting with #5 The Abandoned Panel,

No one comes to your panel, like not even the audio/tech assistants.

This has happened not once, not twice, but three times in my first year as panelist. One of two things could possibly piece out this scenario.  One possibility, my panel along with several other panels were scheduled during a BIG celebrity or celebrities panel. The second possibility would have to be that my panel just… wasn’t that interesting enough to kill time in.

Is that possible? A panel being that uninteresting to everyone?

Oh yeah, if the above conditions can be met. The panel in question: Safety in Cosplay. The convention itself was themed around comic book culture and small screen tv shows.

This happened to me twice, dude. But, it’ll be okay.

#4 You forgot the workshop supplies.

I had the most major of  brain farts at the worst, possible time. Especially when there’s money involved, this can be a stress point. Pro tip: Prepare individual workshop kits  ahead of time and keep a record. The panel I was co-hosting was an Origami 101. I recall waking up that Saturday morning to a text asking if I had all the supplies ready. I, of course, checked my belongs only to find that I had left my paper supplies back home. Luckily, a quick sprint through the dealers’ hall yielded a company that sold bulk sets of origami paper.

Being out of another $150 wasn’t such a big deal then. But, never go to a con without checking you’re “To Pack” list at least twice.

#3 Not knowing your subject in depth.

Not gonna lie, in the beginning, I was getting pretty good at pitching my panels.

But, I wasn’t very good about putting in the time to research the subject once it was go time. I actually thought you could get away with speaking off the cuff  discussion about Rick and Morty.  Again, I didn’t think anything about the subject or the fan base behind it filling an entire room.

Had I not been a huge fan of the show, I think it would have gone too far. But, I was helped out by a few fans with theories about the shows Easter eggs and finished up with a shout out to season 3 speculation dates.

While I do not recommend this method of presenting, it can be a great exercise in rapid fire thinking. Just, uh, try to keep some physical note cards near by.

#2 Oversleeping or forgetting your panel time.

Get ye to bed on time the day before ye panel.

Again, get to bed on time. Con weekends can make one too careless about the importance of sleep. There’s so much to do, so much to see. But, those 7 alarms you set for the following day were all for not. Because, you thought it was a good idea to have that last burger and a large margarita at 3 o’clock in the morning.

I’ve slept through panel times thinking it was later.

I’ve gone to the wrong panel room, thinking I was going to set up next.

Check your schedule, check yourself, and get to bed on time.

And of course, my #1 Whoops…

Not letting Programming know ahead of time that I can’t make it.

Like literally, just taking a few minutes to type out a message to the staff is easy. Regardless of what the reason is, its worth letting them know that you won’t be there.

I’ve had a few times where circumstances made it impossible to be physically at the convention. It’s okay to say, “Hey, thanks for accepting my panels this year. But, I won’t be able to attend at this time.” Include your reason if the comfort level is there. More often than not, they’ll understand and wish you well.

Its not worth getting black listed from a con, in terms of submitting panels in the future, because you were a no show.

I’ve done this only once in my entire 8 years of attending conventions. I don’t want to repeat that, ever.

So, those are my worst mistakes as a first timer, panelist. Learn from my mistakes and maybe, if your brave, share it in the comments.

I promise, more posts and vlogs to come soon.

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