I think that sounds like an excellent guideline. It's a way to promote inclusion and exploration, with the latter far more likely to happen once the former has been achieved.
In my experience (which seems limited if one looks solely at my SFF con experience, but is extensive if one includes the two-plus decades of event speaking), many panelists would like to do some preparation, but most really really need concrete guidelines on how to do so. "Be prepared to talk about X," just doesn't cut it. :)
And I'd love to see better preparation from moderators in general, because a well-prepared moderator brings out the best in under-prepared and/or nerve-wracked panelists. "Let's just wing it and see if it works" is not my favorite thing to hear from moderators. ;)
You know, I think you're right. I think that the guidelines are often etiquette-related--which sadly many people need--and rarely concrete about preparation. I think that one of the things that comes into play is the variety of topic. Even at a speculative fiction convention, "Choreographing a Fight Scene" is a very different set of preparation notes than "Cultural Appropriation and Native Americans in Middle-Grade Fantasy." So I think people get paralyzed and don't give advice for either, because they're afraid it'll be irrelevant for too many.
Whereas I think, well, if it's irrelevant you can ignore it, but people obviously need more help in how to review their own thoughts and knowledge about either topic, so you might as well try to get somewhere with it.
I wish more conventions would make a habit of sharing email addresses between panelists (with permission), so pre-discussion can take place.
Not something people will universally take advantage of but certainly useful as a potential good.
For the panels and workshops I do for wellness and stress, I like using the "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" notion.
Something old -- reference to shared knowledge and/or places of agreement and shared experience.
Something new -- reference to new or emerging research, little known aspects of popular topics, and new perspectives on old knowledge and ideas.
Something borrowed -- quoting, with proper attribution, wise words from others, using the quote as a starting place for exploration and extrapolation
Something blue -- a nostalgic reference or a personal story of relevance. It doesn't need to be sad, despite the blue! But it does need to be something that offers connection and empathy to the audience, and it should be used sparingly.
Hmm. Maybe I should write this up in better detail.
I really think there is value in more concrete stuff about how to prepare for being on panels. Different approaches, like the one you describe. I don't want to push you specifically if you don't have time and inclination, but I really do think that it can help people to have these ideas, either to use directly or to run in their own directions with.
This is something easy to write in between, in small blocks of time. I'll work on it!
Even if it's "squee about your favorite anime" the panelists shouldn't have needed to be told "and a little bit about why it's so cool." Most of the time, people want to say something like "$BestAnime is a really cool story about wizards fighting the IRS!" or "I liked this one because it's about three girls saving the world, but they can't tell their parents" or "if you like that one, you'll really like this, because it's the same artist and a better story."
Wizards fighting the IRS...this needs to happen, in some format or another.
I'm pretty much wholly uninterested in the panels that are clearly just "let's list things we like that fit this topic!" Even with discussion of why people like them. I am very much there for the analysis: not just "I like it because X," but "it does a really good job of handling X, because there are the following challenges and this author has some great solutions to those challenges." From that perspective, yes, analyzing the more familiar stuff and squeeing about the less familiar is a good approach.
Squee can also make a panel irksome when the panelists and the two front rows have been friends for years, and there is much time taken up with high fiving each other for the wittiness of their inside jokes.
Yes, one of the questions is: what are we here for? If what we are here for is to refer to the existence of old inside jokes and then go home, well, we need to organize the weekend differently. You can do that! But billing it as an open convention interested in science fiction is not really truth in advertising; that is better arranged as a gathering of old friends.
Squee can include: "you're so lucky, you get to read X for the first time! I can't wait to talk about it with you! I'm so excited to get to tell you about it!" Or it can exclude: "Oh my GAWD, you haven't read Y? I can't believe you haven't read it, how can you even consider yourself a writer without it?" For something positive, it requires careful handling.
Yup. Nodding here like a jackinthebox.
BTW I secured travel tickets for the train to MPLS for Fourth street (before they could sell out), so I'm keeping an eye out for all discussions.
OH GOLLY. See you in June!
It's the only con I'm going to this year--so looking forward to it!
Not that this excites me or anything... :)
One of my dearest friends is on my "do not put me on a panel with this person" list, because if we're on a panel together it turns into the Rose and Graham Show and that's really only fun for the two of us.
I wonder if making the aim explicit in the title might help. "Non-Obvious Awesome Things About [Show / Series X]", for instance. Might make the panelists work harder from the proverbial get-go.
I wholeheartedly believe that the first step in improving panels is to improve panel descriptions. I kind of want to write an article titled "Do Yes/No Questions Make a Good Premise for a Panel?", but nobody would bother to read it -- which would very neatly make my central point for me, but I do have other things I would want to say in that hypothetical article.
I would be interested in those other things.
I have no joke here, I just like saying "Sniffling Cherub".
Thank you, I couldn't resist.