Stop The Snooze: How To Host Engaging Panels In web3

Navigating web3 can be tiring. Can online panels be a successful way to build engagement?
Boring panel Discussion

Nadia Sergejuk

If your experiences with web3 are predominantly based on tweets, telegram chats, and discord channels, you know how tiring navigating web3 can be. Discord is noisy, Twitter is chaotic and telegram is just not enough… 

In my opinion, high-quality online educational and community content also when presented on Discord or Twitter is the real deal.

In this post, I want to share my hard-earned experiences and talk about best practices concerning online community building for the benefit of the nascent web3 community. I will specifically talk about how to build a stellar online live-streamed panel discussion. 

The goal is for the educational and community element in web3 to be even more efficient to enable broad adoption of the magical world of web3.   

But first a bit of background

One of my side hustles during the last many years of living and working in London has been community building. 

I built and scaled professional communities based on my preferred fields of interest: law, finance, tech startups, and early-stage investing. I built and participated in several online and face-to-face first networks. I attended hundreds of events each year, sometimes several a day, and helped build at least 30 myself. 

I volunteered to build communities because I loved it. 

Because community is important, and everyone needs to find their tribe.

Over time, I became very selective and targeted in my approach whether online or offline. I must admit, I reached a point where I would not attend an in-person event if it didn’t have a clearly defined objective, a nice venue, and a sensible canapes selection.

I also realised that online content and events are a powerful tool to reach similar objectives in a time- and cost-efficient manner. 

The professional services firms discovered early on that audio content, whether pre-corded or live-streamed, is an excellent way to knowledge-share with a broad spectrum of clients and create the right hooks for their target audiences.  In essence, audio content is a great way to generate new leads. 

As regards web3 ecosystem, a strong community is the bread and butter. Good online audio and video content, in my case, I like live panels and AMAs, is one of the main tools to share knowledge, bond, update, entertain and engage. 

How to build a successful online panel discussion? 

Irrespective of whether you’re building for an established organisation or an early-stage project. 

  1. Think carefully about what you want to achieve with your online content. 

Is it to bond with an existing community, provide updates, educate, or something else? Clarifying your goals will help you understand and define your ideal target audience.  

  1.  Identify your target audience. 

Who is your main audience now, and whom do you want to attract? What are their pain points, what will they get from attending your event? When is the most convenient timing for them to jump on an online call etc. It’s crucial to have your end audience in mind when building an online event.  

  1. Be crystal clear upfront regarding the topic that will be covered, the structure, and what the audience will get out of attending your online happening. 

Let’s face it – the competition for people’s attention span is fierce, and the span itself is very short. (I apologise for the semi-long blog post here. Please feel free to skim and focus on the bold points.) 

Clarity of communication and market positioning of your online happening is key to attract your target audience! The least you can do is to tell your audience the topics to be covered,  the main questions you seek to address, and who will have the center stage. 

In brief, tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them and then summarise what you told them and send it out with a nice thank you note.

  1. Decide on the most appropriate structure and time for your online happening.

Know your audience and their preferences. Make it easy for them to choose to spend time with you. There are many ways to structure an online gathering. It can be a moderated panel discussion, a dialogue between two or more people, presentations, or something third.  

I personally prefer fireside chats with a panel of experts and an opportunity to engage the audience. Giving the audience time to engage with your speakers tends to be greatly appreciated by the audience. This of course will depend on the format of your event and the goals you want to achieve. 

  1. Write your objectives, question, and course of action down

It’s never a good idea to just wing it. Particularly, if you’re working in a group to make it happen. Have a timeline and a course of action. Define and distribute the various action points.  

Identifying your goals, your target audience, desired outcome, layout, actions, and scope will help you clarify your thinking and execute on your vision. First, imagine your event on paper then bring it to life.  

  1. Attract your panelists and make them commit to a time and date

Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes you will have to send quite a few requests to get a yes. Have a few backups in any case. There’s always someone who will not be able to make it last moment.

It’s essential to make it easy for your guests to say yes. As with so many other things, clear communication is vital. Tell them what’s expected from them, tell them about other speakers, areas of focus, the format, and the time. Simply make it very easy and attractive for them to want to raise their opinions in public. 

Many people tend to say yes when someone else regarded as important has already committed. In any case, don’t chase too much. Nothing good comes out of chasing people who’re not interested. Ideally, you get an easy yes because of your initial positioning. And remember, an online happening is an opportunity to network, make valuable connections, and position yourself as a domain expert. This also applies to your panelists.   

  1. Schedule a test session.

This is especially easy if you’re building an online event. Simply ask your panelists to dial in for a quick 30-minute call to introduce themselves, test the equipment, and discuss any outstanding practicalities. 

This is an opportunity to get to know your guests, build valuable relationships, and put everyone at ease. It’s a win-win for all if you manage to create an environment where you’re the connector and help people to promote their personal and business interests. 

  1. Structure your discussion

What subtopics do you want to cover, and what questions do you want to ask your panelists? You want to take your audience on a journey and make them sit on the edge of their chairs throughout. 

This point aligns closely with your main objectives, target audience, and the outcomes you want to provide to the audience. Communicate these to your panelists to ensure that you’re on the same page.

Having your topics and questions organised in a logical sequence doesn’t mean you must follow the script blindly on the day. 

  1. Communicate with your panelists well before the event. 

It’s important to create and keep the momentum. Keep your guests updated, create a group thread and be the facilitator that leads them through this process. Communicate your timeline and outstanding actions. Ask your panelists to promote the event on their preferred channels as this makes a huge difference to the number of people you’ll manage to reach. Make it easy for them by providing a suitable pitch. 

  1. Promote your happening. 

Marketing your event to attract the right audience is vital. Position yourself well to reach your target audience and communicate your value proposition clearly. Understand the trends and use these to create a buzz about your online happening. Be consistent and start well ahead of the actual event.   

I thought that a great lineup of panelists will attract the audience without any marketing.  I learned from my mistakes. Now, I very carefully plan a schedule of promotions that go out at suitable intervals days and weeks before the actual event.  

  1. Summarise the main takeaways and follow up with your audience and the panelists

Put your main takeaways in a Twitter thread, discord post, or email. I do not care. But please do not let all this effort be wasted by simply dropping the ball just before the finishing line. You worked so hard and you most certainly have enough material to engage with your audience for at least a couple of weeks. 

Also, panelists like to be appreciated. Send them a nice thank you note after your event.  

To sum up, remember online web3 events will give you the greatest return on investment when carefully planned with the broad picture in mind and a sharp eye for detail. Careful preparation will ensure that you will attract the right audience, and your speakers will feel at ease and appreciate the good experience. 

After the first successful run, organising every subsequent happening will get easier and your audience will grow. Let’s create more high-quality content together 😉

About the author

Nadia Sergejuk

I am an entrepreneurial professional with a background in finance and law and 10 years of experience in financial and regulatory services, crypto and technology sectors. My expertise spans venture building, legal and risk management and operations. I have consistently worked with founders and C-suite executives successfully executing strategic investments and owning cross-functional projects and setting up operational processes.
 I gained investment, regulatory, and operational expertise in organisations including a global consultancy, a global asset management firm, a London-based hedge fund, and a deep-tech VC fund. Over the past two years, I worked with founding teams of early-stage projects in the blockchain ecosystem and sourced deal flow for an international VC. - Expertise in working with cross-functional teams on company-wide initiatives including investments, corporate due diligence, business development initiatives, risk management, and market analysis. - Building networks across geographies and sectors, shaping an inclusive and high-performing work culture, and keeping an agile mindset to deliver on ambitious growth plans. - Strong interpersonal and stakeholder management skills and extensive track record working with C-suite executives and cross-functional teams. - Expertise in working with private and institutional investors, portfolio managers, advisors, VCs, and startups.