How to organise a panel discussion

Panel discussions are a brilliant time to elaborate on the wider philosophy of your campaigns and ideas. For example, why is Freedom of Movement important? Why should we protect the environment, and how? While these questions may be obvious to you, many people will not know the answers, or may even think the questions themselves are too ‘radical’.

They are a great time to gently introduce people to Green ideas. While a protest may be intimidating, panel discussions are a softer way into thinking seriously about Green politics in a safe space.

Young Greens' hosted panels

As a first step, choose a focus. Hold a meeting with your YG group to discuss what you’d like to prioritise. For ideas give our Youth Manifesto a read.

Get thinking about whether this something your local Young Green group would like to host? Or would you like to get a Young Green to speak on a panel hosted by allied groups?

Find a venue

No matter what budget you’re on, there’ll be spaces you can find for a panel discussion.

Whether you are at university or not, university campuses are usually very cost friendly spaces to host panel discussions. If you are a student, or if you know any students on campus make sure you see what’s available!

Alternatively try community spaces in your local area such as: your local town hall, religious spaces or parks (depending on the weather!).

Speakers

Think about major and individuals organisations who specialise in what you will be discussing.

  • Party leaders- please admin@younggreens.org.uk to see if our leaders are available to speak, although this is subject to availability!
  • Local members of the Green Party
  • Green MEPs
  • Green Councillors
  • Green Lords or Baronesses
  • Journalists
  • Charities
  • Politicians with very different perspectives… though be conscious of not giving a platform to those who may cause harm or offence.
  • Activists
  • Campaign groups

Try to get a diverse spectrum of opinion on the subject, contrast always makes for an interesting debate!

Are you fundraising?

Remember it is relatively normal to charge a small fee (under £5) to attend a panel discussion. This could help you build funds for any group activities you have in mind. This is also a good way to ensure that those who have signed up to your event actually turn up! However if people are going to pay, you need to ensure there are good speakers!

However most talks are usually free, therefore if you’d like to attract large numbers this is a good option!

Registration

You’ve got people interested- great! But they need to be able to book to secure their interest. Set up an Eventbrite and make sure you advertise it on your Facebook page.

Young Greens speaking at external panels

Speaking at external events is a great way to build allies and share ideas and platforms with other affiliated groups. It is a fantastic opportunity to reach out to new audiences, and it’s also takes a lot less organising for your society!

What do you want to talk about?

Choose a topic or issue that you think a Green Voice could contribute to.

What matters to your society? What is current and relevant to Young Greens today? What conversations are happening around you? Using our Youth Manifesto as a guide, as well ourGreen Guarantee think about what conversations you would like to contribute to.

Do you want to use this talk as an opportunity to support campaign priorities, or another campaign event? This is a good chance to translate people’s anger after discussing campaigns into direct action. For example, if you organised a talk around our People Not Number’s Campaign is there a protest outside a detention centre soon that you could encourage audience members to go to?? If so make sure you’ve got a registration desk where people can book their tickets to your follow up event.

Who do you want to speak with?

  • Identify which student societies or other groups (individual or national) you would like to speak with.
  • For example if you would like to speak about refugees on behalf of the Young Green People Not Numbers Campaign, STAR (Student Action for Refugees) are a national student society across most U.K universities. Alternatively if there is a campaign specific to your local area or university such as Justice For Cleaners at SOAS (amongst other universities) who are hosting a talk- try to collaborate to get a Green Voice heard for workers’ rights!

 

General tips

Speaking at external events is a great way to build allies and share ideas and platforms with other affiliated groups. It is a fantastic opportunity to reach out to new audiences, and it’s also takes a lot less organising for your society!

Before the event

  • Choose an individual from your group who would like to speak
  • Make sure you are all wised up on what will be discussed, the topic and what you are going to say, try to avoid any car crashes!
  • Who are you speaking alongside? Will there be anyone that clashes with your opinion. Make sure you have some good responses ready that present your arguments clearly, concisely and accessibly.
  • Prepare a presentation, or a short list of speech queues so that nothing is forgotten.
  • Make sure you promote it as much as possible on your social media channels. Be sure to include other speakers tags in your posts, this will increase your social media traffic and potentially turn other speakers followers into your new followers!

During the event

  • Make sure you bring some Green Party literature with you, and try to leave contact details i.e. a Twitter handle of your local party so people can follow up their interest.
  • Keep it snappy! No one wants to be stuck in a talk hours after the event was supposed to finish.
  • Make sure you hang around before and after the event for questions
  • Be friendly to both the audience and your fellow panel speakers. This is a great opportunity to network with our allies, and potentially recruit new members!
  • Make sure you’ve got someone taking pictures at the event.
  • If possible, try to live stream the event so that people can watch it on FB or Twitter live, or have a live tweeting board so that people can remotely contribute to the conversation. Look this up on www.hootsuite.com

After the event

  • Make sure you have shared all photos/videos on your social media channels.
  • Message all the people you spoke alongside, the organisers and audience members with a word of thanks. Use this opportunity to mobilize any future collaborative action you may want to take alongside them
  • Try and get a future talk in the diary with the organisers, or other speakers. The more visibility, the better!