Panel Discussions: Do’s and Don’ts of the Art of the Question

So I attend many a panel discussion every year in my quest to learn more about the tv/film/animation/comic industry, and it never ceases to amaze me how badly folks in the audience ask questions. I’m not talking about nervousness, for even the most nervous has asked a compelling question. And indeed, most people are able to get their thoughts across well enough for the interviewee to answer well. But many people use it as a platform to tell their sob story about the woes of failing in the industry, or about their life in general, leading many a moderator to ask what the actual question IS within the jangled mess of jargon spewing from the attendee’s mouth.

So for you, my dear readers, I present:



1. State your name and your profession.
2. Ask one to two questions MAX that are clearly worded well enough for you to say them before you get up to the mike.
3. Give the responder time to answer the question without arguing, cajoling or looking like you’re about to break down.
4. Thank them for their time.


1. Tell them your life story and about how hard it is to break into the industry and the rotten luck you’ve received for the past 1, 2, 10 years. They’ve already gone through their own tales of woe and made it, they don’t care about your gripes and it makes you look desperate.
2. Think out your question as you attempt to ask them, turning it into a jumbled mess.
3. Ask them to hire you, give them your resume, hire their friend, ask why they haven’t agreed to meet with them, etc. It scares them and makes you look like a stalker.
4. Ask them 5 questions in a row that could be answered with a brief conversation with them AFTER the Q&A.
5. Ask them a question that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, why the state of the world is so terrible to them, etc. (Again, see Don’t #1)

Remember – they are there to help you, so present yourself in as confident, professional manner as possible. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll look fabulous.

© 2007 Angela Entzminger

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