BLOG SURF: Panel debates

Development organizations are fond of assembling experts in a room and hosting panel discussions that are often a dreadful experience for those on the panel, as well as those in the audience.

Reading directly from scripts, awful PowerPoint presentations, prepared questions and answers, lengthy remarks, and very little outcome for the comparatively huge human, financial, and logistical resources that are spent to prepare and execute such events.

I’m not sure when panel discussions became an exercise in participant punishment that seems diabolically perfect in combining underperforming speakers, lack of gender balance, and an environment more conducive to checking Facebook updates or dozing off.

Newcomers to the international development arena must feel shocked to see what people seem to be willing to accept and endure as part of what should be fruitful, encouraging, or controversial exchanges of ideas.