As convention season is underway, this rule may be a timely one to share. Although it was originally intended for the theatre, I think it applies to panels as well.
Personally, I also consider texting and tweeting during a panel to be discourteous and distracting to both audience seated behind you and to those on the panel, with three exceptions.
- Tweeting that you are in a panel, giving the name of it, and its location is a benefit to the panelists, unless done repeatedly.
- Tweeting a photo from the panel can also be beneficial, unless done repeatedly.
- If you plan on “live tweeting” as some do from the panel, this too can be beneficial to the panelists as it can bring others to the panel or serve as a nice touch afterward for the panelists to see what resonated. I would suggest not sitting in the front rows, however. The panelists, if like me, tend to feed off of the energy of the audience.
In addition, I don’t think it serves anyone if an audience member takes over the conversation during a panel. Meaning, unless questions are requested, you should just listen. If you have a question or opinion, raise your hand at the appropriate time and make what you say concise. Remember, the rest of the audience came to share in the information from the panelists, and it can easily turn into a situation where the panelists are unable to continue the conversation because of an audience member with a firmly held opinion that is being voiced.
Again, these are my rules as I’ve developed them over the years and other panelists may feel completely different.
Opinions from panelists? Opinions from audience members?
Many thanks for the read. I look forward to seeing if there are comments on this one.