Thursday, July 28, 2011

How To Behave On A Panel

My friend, Steven Saus sent along a great link to The Crimson Pact authors about a blog post regarding how to behave when you're on a panel.

Here's the link to Michelle's excellent post.

And here's the email I sent out in reply:

Steven, thanks for sending along that link. I just read all of Michelle's lengthy post on panels and most of the 44 comments I saw today. She's correct to a major degree and it's definitely a good idea to follow her advice.

The panel is about X, X being the topic of the panel, not you, (Y). If the moderator asks you about how you handled X (the panel topic) in a story or novel, you (Y) are allowed to talk about it, which equals Z, but keep Z relevant and brief and entertaining--no long discourses--which bother almost everyone and will cause the wrong kind of ZZZZZZZZ to happen.

There's a slippery slope when it comes to talking about your own work, but I can't go with what Michelle was endorsing 100%, which is never talking about your own work, as apparently Connie Willis never talks about her own work. I think you have to talk about it very briefly when you give your introduction in the beginning, and at the end when you say thank you to the audience, and when someone asks about it--which is usually the moderator--which is what Michelle endorsed as well.

I've attended a ton of panels over the past 19 years, and have been on a ton more since 2005, and they're hard to pull off without a good moderator.

I recommend getting in at least one mention of your work, at the end of the panel after you say thank you where you make your final thought about the panel topic, and then say, "Thanks for coming to this panel, and I'll be doing a reading of my urban fantasy story, _________, from The Crimson Pact anthology tomorrow at 3 in the Cedar room, and I hope to see you there. I'm going to give away a free e-copy of the antho at the end of the reading. Thanks again."

Hand the mic to the moderator. Wait outside for a few minutes and see if anyone wants to chat.

Another bit of advice: Prepare yourself for the panel. Research the topic and never, ever say, "I have no idea why I'm on this panel." You're a writer, prep for it, do some research. I almost always walk out if someone on the panel says that line now. It feels like they're wasting my time. If the other panelists are great authorities on this topic, I'll stick around, but if the whole panel acts like they don't have any knowledge on the topic and are just bullshitting me, I don't like it.

Michelle's blog post is a good one for sure, so if you're going to be on a panel please check it out.

Paul Genesse, Author and Editor

Editor of The Crimson Pact Volume 1
(Alliteration Ink., March 2011)

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