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The “Panel Trap” – or – “Do It For the Children”


By Susan Tomai

If you’re a parent, you’ve seen this movie before: as your spouse lectures the kids, you hang onto every word, for appearance’s sake. You do it for the kids – so do the same for your colleagues.


The next time you deliver a presentation as part of a team, or sit on a panel with a co-worker, be aware of any facial expressions, gestures or body language that tell the audience “I’m bored.” Pulling out your iPhone, staring blankly up at the ceiling or chatting with the person next to you – no.  When another person is speaking (especially one of your colleagues), maintain your professionalism and look at the speaker as though everything being said is fascinating, even if you’ve heard it a million times. It will help the speaker’s self-confidence and send a properly respectful message to the rest of the audience.

I once saw two staff members spinning their pens on the table helicopter-style, each one completely unaware of the other – while their CEO was speaking. It was hilarious – but man, what a terrible message to send to the audience.

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