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Angel’s Bits: Panel Chameleon

018(from left to right: Belinda McBride, Angel Martinez, K.C. Burn from the SF panel at GLR 2013)

Picture me singing this to “Karma Chameleon.” A lot of our writers and readers attend conferences and retreats large and small throughout the year. With these, we’re often confronted with the dreaded panel decisions. Should I be brave and volunteer for one? Which ones? Are there ones for which I want to be in the audience? Am I going to have seventeen nervous breakdowns before and during the con because of these damn panels?

Believe me, I get it. I get nervous just going to other people’s panels sometimes and quite terrified when I have to sit at the table in the front of the room. People tell me they can’t tell. That’s nice to hear. I’m still having a coronary. There are, of course, things that can alleviate some of the stress.

  • Only sign up for panels where you feel you have something to add. This may sound really basic, but it’s not fun being on a panel where everyone else is an expert and you’re the odd one out.
  • Do some preparation beforehand. I gather facts and have notes, because I’m really really bad about recalling specifics on the spot. “When Joanna Russ won the Nebula in 1969” is so much better than “when that woman won that thing in the late 60’s.”
  • Find out if the panel is moderated or not. A good moderator will keep the conversation moving and make sure every participant gets to speak. If there’s no moderator, see if you can connect with other panelists ahead of time for a rough game plan.
  • Friendly faces in the audience help. If you have a friend with you, make sure they sit where you can see them.
  • Encourage questions from the audience. It’s much more fun if there’s a give and take.

Right now? I’m in pre-con anxiety level one, the trying to propose and decide on panels stage for Yaoi/Yuri North in May. For all of you who attend panels, what sorts of panels would you like to see that you’ve never run into anywhere?

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