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Be a discussion panelist

It takes courage to be a discussion panelist: either at a conference, internal event or industry trade show. Yet it can be an excellent way to raise your profile and showcase your area of expertise.

However, there has been a lot within the business world about panels being male dominated “Manels” and also women refusing to attend events where there are only male panelist. But this particular article and post caught my eye in social media: particularly as I was ‘Tagged’ to comment on it. Essentially, there was an open letter from an events organiser within the property industry – which is male dominated; saying that women were just not prepared to come on discussion panels and there fore organisers shouldn’t be criticised for this. Here is the letter: 


To be honest, she has a good point. It is one thing to criticise organisers for not having women – and minorities on discussion panels, but if it is true that women are declining offers to be on these panels, we shouldn’t criticise the organisers. Instead we should collectively be stepping up; taking a risk and be present.

2 years ago, I contacted the organisers of a monthly debating platform, which focused on an industry with over 75% females within it. I politely asked why all of the panels were exclusively men and whether I could assist in any way to get female panelists. The organiser was so thankful for my offer; he had received a lot of criticism from women who felt they were under-represented in these events, yet when he asked them, or other high profile women, they all refused to be on a panel. Working with him, I was able to find some outstanding women; and the result was that other women then felt able to come forward for further discussions.

I do appreciate that this is a very visible platform to demonstrate your expertise; and the other panelists have their own agenda. In other words, the worst possible scenario is that the discussions are badly planned, managed and there is another panelist who is dominant. HOWEVER, it will not damage your reputation and doing more of these only builds up your resilience, profile and experience.

So PLEASE start saying yes, and seek out opportunities to represent yourself, your business and your expertise in discussion panels.

If you wish to work with me or to have coaching for being in discussion panels contact me.

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