How many of you...

Jul 15, 2016
I have been on many panels at writer conventions, and my firm advice is to just be yourself, and you'll do just fine. Which panels were you invited to be on?

Wes B

Mostly Harmless
Jul 28, 2019
I was invited on the Religion in SciFi and Fantasy, as well as audiobook panels.

The latter went well, in the former I was sort of "meh."
If you're invited to participate in any kind of panel, then congratulations are in order... you are distinguishing yourself in that area. While I've not participated in writer's panels, I've participated in other kinds of panels, and have noticed some interesting things. Sometimes, events stretch outside our control and we just have to flow with it.

I think panels' primary intent is just to produce an interesting and entertaining conversation for the audience. Participants don't always seem to be briefed about this beforehand, and there are varying levels of moderator's skill, in herding the speakers to stay at least partly inside of the topic they're supposed to be covering, and politely giving others a chance to speak.

If the speakers have some level of maturity, they'll try to keep on-topic, and not grab too much "air time." We all know someone who needs to speak 90% of the time in any conversation. One of these people on a panel will dominate it; two such people will push everyone else out. A good moderator keeps things under control, but many moderators are just volunteers whose entire skillset is to prepare some starter questions, to keep things going. They try, and they do their best, but it's nothing similar to their "day job"...

It really should be a good conversation, though. That makes it analogous to tossing a ball back and forth among the participants. At its worst, one person hangs onto the ball, thinking it makes them look good. (Usually, it does the opposite...)

If our primary focus is the audience, we might prepare a list of short statements (and longer ones!) that the audience might find interesting, with the hope we'll use a few. Depending on the outlooks/egos/abilities to stay on-topic of the other participants, we'll have more or fewer opportunities to use them. I'm the kind of stickler who believes the audience should get what they came for, though as a result I may not always contribute a proportional share of participation. C'est la vie...
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