Show me Wellington and why I won't organise panel discussions

by | Aug 27, 2014

The annual Show Me Wellington -conferences and events expo was on last week, held down at TSB and Shed 6 on the Wellington waterfront.  Because of my Princess of Parties status and my choice of schooling this year I headed along.  Here’s what I thought.
The concept is great.  I love the addition of the Show Me Cool talks this year as well as the exhibition area showcasing all sorts of businesses which can help you with different aspects of the event experience.
The first Show Me Cool session – Morning Muse with SMW Ambassadors – had Natasha Lampard of Webstock and LilRegie fame and Mike Egan, el presidente of the Restaurant Association on the panel facilitated by PWV CEO Glenys Coughlan.  Both Mike and Tash are obviously passionate about what they do which beamed from the stage to the audience.  One thing that resonated with me was not just the content of what they were saying, but how difficult it is to make a panel discussion work, something Glenys did particularly well, despite a no-show meaning her panel of 3 was now only two, and not really a panel at all.
From there I toured around the exhibitors, who at 9am were all ripped and rearing to go!  Good stuff to see.  It was quiet and I was able to pin a few people down who I really wanted to talk to – Tuatara brewery included – jackpot!  I stopped in at The Lanes and bowled a strike (true story) and nabbed a few goodies to bring back to the guys in the office.
At 1pm, I returned to SMW and another Show Me Cool industry panel, this time promising new thinking.  The others I was sitting with and I weren’t particularly impressed with this panel, there wasn’t much chance for interaction between the panelists and I’m still at odds as to why they titled this session ‘new thinking’ when there wasn’t anything new about it at all.  What it did cement however was the true difficulty of having panel discussions and how painful they can be when it doesn’t quite work.
I’ve been toying with the idea of having a panel at the Wellington’s all about BI meetup group I organise, and knowing that they are difficult to facilitate I really appreciate having the opportunity to experience today’s panels.  Needless to say, I won’t be having panels in any of my events in the near future.  The failure risk is simply too great.
Thanks to Brett Jeffery from Australasian Society of Associations Executives for adding to my reading list with Road to Relevance.
~ Bronnie

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