kilbswhitecrow (kilbswhitecrow) wrote,

How to be not on a panel

At Olympus, I was speaking to one person who was attending his first Eastercon. He was having a great time, the programme was fabulous and he found the panels really interesting and engaging --- "but I don't get the audience," he said. "There are some people who seem to think that there's no-one in the room but them and the panel."

True. And it's true of every con to which I've been: Eastercons, Redemptions, various Starfury media cons. It's not true of all panels, and not true of all audience members, by any means, but this happens often enough that it crops up at least once per con. So a few points to remember, next time you're in the audience of a con panel:

- you're not on the panel. Questions and points from the audience are addressed to the panel, not to you. Let the panel answer them.

- when you're asking your question, please try to be as succinct as possible. Aim for a thirty-second question. Under a minute, definitely. A three-minute ramble is way too long. Get to the damn point (or question).

- when you're speaking from the audience, you're making a point, or you're asking a question. You're not engaging in a conversation. You don't get to counter the panel's response, or try to convince them. If you weren't sufficiently clear that they didn't quite understand, tough. You had your go. It's someone else's turn now.

- Wait your turn. If other people are raising their hands and being polite, don't just speak out. Wait for the panel/moderator to indicate that it's your turn next. Especially don't shout out when someone else is still speaking.

- Corollary: please be considerate of others who are also waiting: if the panel hasn't noticed that someone else has been waiting longer when they indicate it's your turn, be kind enough to suggest that the other person gets to speak first.

- Discussions move on. If your point is no longer relevant by the time it's your turn, please don't drag the panel back just because you still want to make your point, unless you can still make the point in a way that's also relevant to where the discussion has now reached.

- If there's a roving microphone being used to make questions audible, wait for it to arrive. Don't just try yelling.

- On occasion, a discussion-item might be very informal (usually, very small panels, often with chairs in a circle), in which case the panel (not you) might choose to run it as more of a free-form discussion. You should still be considerate of other people who are speaking, and not talk over other people who are speaking.
Tags: conventions, redemption

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