Panel Discussion in Your Community


For this challenge, you will host a panel discussion on an ocean themed topic!

Panel discussions provide an opportunity for members of the community to ask questions and hear opinions from various experts. It's a great opportunity to bring people together around a common interest. Panel discussions can be stand-alone or can be organized with a film screening, shoreline cleanup or other community event. 


Here is what you need to do:


  1. Choose a time, date and location for your event. Choose a space that facilitates discussion.
  2. Choose a topic. Ensure your topic is specific enough to be able to dig deep into an issue while being broad enough to appeal to a wide audience
  3. Recruit 3-5 panelists. Panelists should be well-informed about the topic. Consider having panelists with varied backgrounds including business, non-profit, academia and public sector. Create a panel that is diverse (gender, ethnicity, age etc.).
  4. Invite a moderator (this could be you!). Ensure that the moderator understands the topic well enough to follow the discussion and is skilled in facilitation to ensure the discussion runs smoothly.
  5. Decide on a format for the panel including time frame. A typical format is:
  • Welcome and Territorial Acknowledgement
  • Panelist Introductions 
  • Panelist Initial Comments: Each panelist has 5-7 minutes to speak to the topic)
  • Moderator-curated questions 
  • Questions from the audience: Questions can be taken directly from the audience and from online using Twitter and a specific Hashtag. There are also programs (ex. Slido) which allow audience members to submit and like questions online
  • Summary
  • Thank-you/Closing

6. Consider hosting a reception after the event to allow audience members to continue the discussion.

7. Write up short introductions for the moderator and for the panelists. Determine questions for the panelists (general questions as well as questions directed as certain individuals). 

8. Gather your equipment: For a larger audience, you will want 1-2 microphones and a speaker. If using  Slido or a similar platform, you will need a projector, screen and computer. If hosting a reception after the panel, ensure you have everything you need.

9. Set up a webpage so people can register for the event, such as EventBrite.

10. Use the Communications Plan Template to develop a communications strategy. Contact the Ocean Bridge Communication Coordinator to connect you with local media outlets.

11. Market your event! Invite friends, family and members of the community to attend. Spread the word through social media, and community meetings, or in person.


  1. Check to make sure your technical equipment is working (microphone etc.)
  2. Facilitate the panel and enjoy the discussion!
  3. Be active on social media using our hashtags #OceanBridge #LeadersToday and tag @OceanWise @leaderstoday and @SocDevSoc on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
  4. Thank the panelists for their time and audience members for attending


  1. Share your experience! Tag your service on our Ocean Service Activities map. Take photos and share them on our community space gallery, write a blog or post about the your experience on the discussion board.

Ready to take it to the next level?

Host a panel discussion in conjunction with a film screening, shoreline cleanup or other community event

Want to do something a little simpler?

Host a discussion with your friends, co-workers or classmates!

Continue to Outreach Fair »

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