Speaking Versus Doing: Lessons From Selecting Panelists For A Convention

A lifetime or so ago, I was the program director for a three day convention, where most of the panelists would be authors, editors, publishers, and other creative types in genre publishing.

I spent quite a bit of time selecting panelists. It wasn’t just merely wanting to make sure there was diversity and representation (though that was a concern).

My problem was a bit more fundamental.

I knew a lot of people who had a lot of really good information. I also knew a lot of people who were excellent speakers and panelists.

They were not always the same people.

Obviously, I skipped those fascinating public speakers who I knew passed along flawed (or flat out wrong) information and advice.

But there was a second, larger category of people I passed up as panelists who I knew had near-encyclopedic knowledge, but who — for whatever reason — were bad at public speaking and wouldn’t keep the audience’s attention in a live panel setting at a con.


I regularly sought out those knowledgeable (but not great at public speaking) people I’d passed over as panelists for actual publishing work both before and after the convention. Sometimes I sought them out over people that I had selected as panelists.

Why would I do that when I’d passed over them as a panelist?

Because they were good at writing, editing, or publishing.

When it was time to talk about the job, then public speaking was important.

But when it came to actually doing the job, public speaking had nothing to do with the actual work.

And that is my analysis of the Biden-Trump debate last week.

Featured Image by rgaymon from Pixabay

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