Being on a Panel

Panels at the UK Meet

Here are some brief note about being on a panel at the UK Meet – what it involves, why you may like to do it, what we want and how we can help.

No one HAS to take part in a panel, it’s totally voluntary. Many of us are happiest just visiting panels, learning something new, and/or sharing the weekend with like-minded people. But many of you have contributed greatly to the Meet’s programme over the years, and we would love this to continue.

You may want to work with a couple of friends, or join others who are presenting on a topic that interests you. You may be happy to join any panel that’s just looking for another helping hand.

We welcome you all.

More detailed information will sent out in advance of the event, but please contact our panel co-ordinator Rhys as early as you can, if you already have definite ideas and plans. OR JUST IF YOU’D LIKE TO JOIN IN, IN WHATEVER CAPACITY YOU’RE NEEDED! We’ll be happy to share the experience with you.

What sort of panels are you looking for?

We welcome panels on any aspect of the LGBT fiction world, but please remember that we are traditionally an even mix of readers and authors, amateurs and professionals. So we especially favour panels that will suit a broad range of attendees.

Topics in the past have involved discussions on particular genres, on the art and craft involved in creating books – from Killer Openings to keeping up the suspense – on the current publishing industry, on tropes and trends, on well-loved characters, on reader interaction with favourite authors, on using social media effectively, on reviews, on sex scenes, on BDSM.

And it’s always great to have a panel with a good sense of humour!

Who do you need?

There are three types of involvement in a panel. You can choose which suits you.

Pitch and Present

Please let us know if you have a pitch for a particular topic. We will consider any suitable panels, on the assumption you will organise and resource them. We require all panels to consist of at least two people, and we will need one person to be the primary contact. Let the Team know if you need or would appreciate/welcome other panellists.

Connect and Contribute

Panellists do not need to have organised or pitched the panel they’re on. It’s important to have members on the panel who will contribute their own experience, and be an active supporter. This may be on a panel that someone else has already suggested, or you may ask us to allocate you to any panel where they need a friendly and enthusiastic face on “their” side of the table. Does that sound like something you’d like?

Moderate and Mind

We make sure that every panel has a Moderator. This may just be to introduce the panel and the panellists, and then to thank them at the end of the session. But a Moderator can also support and guide a panel. For example, where a panel takes the form of a discussion or Q&A, they can ensure the best use of the time allotted, and keep interaction flowing smoothly. If you think you would enjoy and be comfortable with that role, we need you!
Moderators will usually only be asked to join one panel over the weekend, unless it’s mutually agreed to be more.

What format does a panel take?

All panels last for approximately an hour. You’ll be amazed how quickly that time passes!
And the presentation is completely up to you.
You can deliver a panel seated at a table, standing in the front of the room, or moving through the audience. We usually have microphones on the table, and also handheld wireless ones you can use around the room.
You can provide handouts, use a laptop and projector or a flip chart, or just talk.
You can be interactive with the audience, ask for questions during or at the end, or present an experience of your own.

We are neither high-tech nor officious in how you run your panel! We want everyone to have fun. Though we do have conditions for the Meet to run smoothly and successfully, and these are listed below.

We thrive on your involvement, and your audience will really appreciate your time, attention, and passion for your topic.

What conditions do you have?

These are largely common-sense and reflect our aim of respect and tolerance to all during the weekend.

* If you volunteer, you must turn up for the panel, or let the Team know in good time of any serious reason you can’t. It’s not fair to let your fellow panellists down.
* We will ask for a draft agenda – like a “synopsis”! – ahead of time, and confirmation of who will be on the panel. This allows us to find extra resources if needed, to prevent duplication, and consider any specific challenge to the content.
* We ask you to be respectful to your Moderator, and of course your fellow panellists. Everyone will have a point to be made, and deserves the time and encouragement to do so. Please try and ensure one person(s) doesn’t dominate at the expense of others.
* We ask you to be mindful of the time allotted. It’s not fair to other panellists – or people waiting for a refreshment break! – to run over the scheduled end of your slot. Be especially mindful if you welcome questions or other audience participation: these can often run away with the time.
* We will appoint a Moderator to every panel: They’re there for your benefit, to help things go well. Update them on your hopes and plans for the session.
* It’s perfectly acceptable for you to offer a contact email or card at the end of your session, if an attendee asks for it. But please don’t use your slot for blatant self-promotion, or restrict others from contributing their experience on a topic.

Well, I’m tempted!

Think it over, and when the Team ask for suggestions for panels, feel free to volunteer in any capacity!
The Team will offer whatever help you need, whether it’s more panellists, a Moderator, a screen or mics, or some guidance on how to run/moderate your panel.

And above all, have fun, and the attendees will do too!