Tips from Our Panel Planning Pro

Many communications professionals must develop panel discussions for annual meetings, conferences, workshops or scientific assemblies. Sound simple? Like all events, the devil is in the details.

During four years on Washington Women in Public Relations Board of Melanie JordanDirectors, PRofessional Solutions’ Managing Director Melanie Jordan planned more than 50 professional development events–many of them panel presentations. Here are some of her best practices for creating successful panel discussions.

In advance…

  • Select panelists with a diversity of opinions on the topic, are eloquent and recognized as experts in the field. When identifying panelists, review videos of previous presentations to find dynamic guests.
  • Choose an experienced moderator with the strength to control the event and prevent a panelist from derailing the discussion. Provide the moderator with some questions to ask during the panel discussion and to have on hand in case Q & A is slow to start.
  • When issuing an invitation to a panelist, be very specific about his or her role in the discussion. Send a group email to panelists assigning separate topic areas for their participation, thus avoiding redundancy in remarks. Outline the program logistics, amount of time for each panelist’s opening points (no more than a few minutes) and allotted time for Q & A with the audience.

During the program…

  • Encourage social media interaction. Prepare a slide to be shown behind the dais or place a handout on audience chairs with social media hashtags and handles for your organization, the event, and the speakers and provide guest Wi-Fi information. In addition, print panelists’ Twitter handles on dais nameplates to encourage live tweeting during the event.
  • Don’t waste precious time with lengthy introductions of the moderator and speakers. Simply state their name, title and organization and include their bios and links to their LinkedIn profiles on program information and publicity.

Pitfalls to avoid…

  • Never choose more than four panelists; a higher number becomes unwieldy and doesn’t allow speakers enough time to adequately showcase their opinions.
  • To hold audience attention, don’t exceed 90 minutes. An hour is better, with 40 minutes for the panel discussion and 20 minutes for Q & A with the audience.
  • Prevent embarrassing optics. Ensure that the dais table has a skirt for female panelists in skirts. If you’re placing presenters on stools, warn female panelists in advance so they can wear slacks; a stool is difficult to maneuver in a skirt.


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PR Pros Will Mix and Mingle as WWPR Names Three New Emerging Leaders

The seventh annual awards Washington Women in Public Relations Emerging Leaders Awards (ELA) ceremony and cocktail reception is expected to bring together more than 140 communications professionals on Tuesday, June 21.  They will hear Case Foundation’s Senior Director of Communications Jade Floyd explore this year’s theme “Making A PR Pro” and learn which three of these the six finalists will be named 2016’s Emerging Leaders:

Firms interested in an ELA sponsorship should contact .

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Worker Satisfaction Highest Since 2005

It’s nice to read good news, so an item in the June issue of Staffing Industry Review caught my eye.  According to the annual Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), more US workers are satisfied with their jobs than at any time since 2005!

Apparently, the percentage of satisfied employees has been trending up since 2013, and 88 % of responding employees in this survey reported that they were satisfied overall with their job, including 37% who reported being “very satisfied”.

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WWPR Reveals Finalists for 7th Annual Emerging Leaders Awards

Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) has announced six finalists to be honored at this year’s Emerging Leaders Awards on June 21, 2016. The Emerging Leaders Awards is a special accolade for young women between 23 and 30 years of age who are active within the communications field and have made a significant impact on the industry.


The 2016 WWPR Emerging Leaders Awards finalists include:

Brittanie ClementDelucchi Plus@brittclem

Cait DeBaunU.S. Travel Association@CaitDeBaun

KC SleddAtlantic Media Strategies@kcesledd

Melissa ZuckermanJPA Health Communications@MelissaShay817

Rachel RacoosinLEVICK@rachelracoosin

Sarah HubbartMichael Torrey Associates, LLC@mustbesarah

The seventh annual awards ceremony and cocktail reception will bring together more than 140 communications professionals. Keynote speaker, the Case Foundation’s Senior Director of Communications Jade Floyd, will explore this year’s theme “Making A PR Pro.”

From the six finalists, three Emerging Leaders Awards honorees will be named at the ceremony and reception. The event will take place at the Morning Consult offices, located at 729 15th Street NW. in Washington on Tuesday, June 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  Tickets are $40 for members of WWPR and PRSA-NCC; $50 for non-members. To register go to!event/2016/6/21/emerging-leaders-awards

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Polished Resumes Open Doors

At PRofessional Solutions, LLC we see far too many resumes that instead of highlighting the skills and accomplishments of communicators actually demonstrate poor writing and formatting that buries the most important information.

Does your resume open the door to an interview or leave you passed over? Do you know how to update your resume for each phase of your career? Does the format enhance the likelihood of an employer seeing the most relevant information or is it buried and take too much effort to find?

Improve your job search or get ready to respond to the next opportunity with advice from Susy Howard, Principal, The McCormick Group, Inc., and Alicia Aebersold, Senior Vice President at the non-profit National Council for Behavioral Health, who will speak on effective resumes at the next IABC/DC Metro Communications Forum

SusyHowardHoward is the leader of the communications and public relations group at McCormick Group, responsible for conducting searches for senior communications positions for a diverse range of Fortune 500 companies, associations, and public relations firms.

Aebersold, who has been at the National Council since September 2014, AliciaAebersoldhas a proven track record managing large, diverse, and productive teams and led an expansion of the organization’s communications department.

WHEN:  Tuesday May 24  ~ 8:00-8:30 a.m. continental breakfast

8:30-10:00 a.m.  Program

WHERE: The HON Company, 1101 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC   Located directly above Farragut North (red line), L Street entrance/exit

COST:   IABC DC Chapter Members: $20   Non-IABC members:$30     Students: $10


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Case Foundation Senior Communicator to Keynote WWPR Emerging Leaders Awards

Jade Floyd, senior director of communications for the Case Foundation since 2012, will be the keynote speaker at the 7th annual Washington Women in Public Relations annual Emerging Leaders Awards (ELA) on the evening of June 21.

The awardJadeFloyds ceremony and cocktail reception will bring together more than 140 communications professionals for a celebration of young women active within the communications field who have made a significant impact on the industry.

Ticket prices for the event rise tomorrow, May 3. For information or tickets go to!event/register/2016/6/21/emerging-leaders-awards

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First Impressions

The “Dustin” comic strip often nails it about why some people can’t seem to get or keep a job.  Don’t blow a job interview by believing you should just be comfortable and appearance doesn’t matter.  For tips about Interview Body Language check out PRofessional Solutions’ Pinterest page on the topic at


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