Many people participating in panels at BristolCon will be old hands, but we know (because we keep track of these things) that every year we will be putting a handful of people behind that long, intimidating table with the microphones on it who have never been there before.
If that’s you, there’s no need to panic and start wishing you’d never ticked that ‘participate’ box on the programme form. Everyone starts somewhere, and we’re here to help make sure you have a great panel experience. Below are our top tips on being a panelist.
- Prepare a few notes on the topic. Even if it’s something you know a lot about, jot down a few bullet points just to make sure you’re not stuck for something to say if your brain does happen to freeze.
- Practise introducing yourself. You don’t want to start a panel by saying ‘I don’t know anything about this topic, I don’t know why I’m on this panel’. It happens to the best of us, when faced with that sea of expectant faces and seated next to Star McExpert and Bob Famous-Cleverpants, but don’t give in to it. Your opinions are valid, and you have something to say – you prepared your notes, didn’t you?
- You should hear from the panel moderator at least a few days before the convention. (If you haven’t, contact us on programme[at]bristocon[dot]org and let us know.) The moderator will give you an idea of the questions they’ll ask at the start of the panel, so you won’t be going in cold, and ask you if there’s anything you especially want to discuss. They may also invite you to meet up in the bar prior to the panel – it’s a great thing to do and we encourage you to make the time if you can.
SFF conventions are all about conversation, and by taking part in a panel you’re getting to spend time in conversation with people who you may agree with or disagree with, and who may be heroes of yours. At cons we are all part of the genre’s dialogue with itself, fans and creators alike. Be respectful, be opinionated, have fun!