Last September 27, I have presented my first international panel – at KuroCon Online volume 2. Although this is pre-recorded, this panel opened Day 2 of the online event which gathered hundreds of participants on Discord and Twitch.
I took chance of proposing a topic in light of the recent KissAnime shutdown, and I’m happy that this has been approved.
That said, allow me to detail the process which I have done from topic application, approval, recording to the actual event itself.
Application and Approval
Only a few people know about panel topic applications in the Philippines – in most parts of the world, you apply for the topic you want to share. This is most reflected in cons in the U.S. / Canada area.
Aside from the artist alley, cosplay competitions, concerts and parlor games, panel discussions are one of the most important parts of a convention.
Depending on the rules set by the organizer, you can choose to apply for a topic which you have already discussed before or create one from scratch. I chose the latter.
My advice on applying for a panel is to look up on all the panels that have been presented before. As many as you can. Or, cater to a specific niche or audience.
I applied with the KissAnime shutdown in mind, and knowing the anime fans in the Philippines (and yes, Indonesia, since we’re sort of parallel to each other in terms of culture).
I’ve noticed that only a few talked about how anime is distributed in other parts of the world, so I’d love to have our region represented. That’s the goal of “Case Studies on YouTube-based Anime Distribution Model in Southeast Asia.”
I’ve sent my application a month before, and I almost forgot that I did, given my work load for the last quarter of the year (it’s event season, what else to say?).
The morning of September 10 (my time), I got an email from the organizer saying that my submission has been accepted, along with the tentative time slot.
Quick-starting your panel deck
Given that I only have 16 days to process everything, I’ve already had a confident hypothesis in mind to which I can prove with a survey. At these time frames, you need all the audience interaction you can have.
I quickly made a survey form through Google Forms, stating all the things I need from each respondent. Given that names don’t matter in this survey, I skipped on asking that. As long a you’re an anime fan, you’re in my target audience.
That, as well as the General Data Privacy Regulations with lots of flavors being implemented worldwide (we have our own Data Privacy Act too).
I can ask everyone their age, but if I did it in a detailed way, I’ll have a hard time tabulating it. I need to guide them to which choices they have to choose, thus I arranged the choices per age range. This depends on your perception of age groups: Boomers, Zoomers, and the like.
As with anything, keep your forms short and simple. I hate to produce forms which take pages to complete. Except if you’re giving away a gift card, don’t make it complicated. It should take them at best 10 minutes to answer your survey, else they can forget about finishing it.
Following the survey, I already produced the template to which the data will be placed. Again, Google Drive to the rescue. I whipped up one of the templates and then decided on how the content will be displayed. For further reading, I recommend you to read Dan Roam’s “Show and Tell.”
Another way to get advice is through your mentors – it could be your boss at work who loves to produce present at various events, too.
Producing templates ahead of time will make it easier to add – and revise – content as you approach the deadline.
For reference, here’s my Speaker Deck of the topic.
Gathering and Polishing Content
Story time: I am running out of time to gather responses from outside the Philippines, so I whipped up a Facebook ad to target users in select neighboring countries where I’m not that confident to get responses should I have not proceed with this method.
Within a few days, I was able to get responses from the said countries, therefore adjusting the ratio of respondents by country. Again, this depends on your target audience.
I’ve evaluated which contents can be recorded in parts so I can lay it all out on the video editor – I went on and divided the panel into three parts – (a) Introduction, Background and the Challenge to solve, (b) the Survey and its results, and (c) validating the hypothesis and capping off the presentation.
I’ve recorded parts A and C while waiting for the survey period to end – that should tell the story of the time machine gag I had.
If you have low editing skills, why not try Zoom’s recording feature – start a Zoom call, record it and prepare your slides to be displayed. After the call, a dialog box should tell you that your video is being converted.
Troubleshooting before the panel gets recorded
Before you record the panel on your phone, review your slides so you can do less takes. While it’s easier to just go live, wait until you hear your own voice after the panel has been screened to know if you’re satisfied or not. Get a mic that records decent sound. Don’t shout at your phone as if you’re shouting at your attendees. A long lapel mic should be good for your smartphone.
Given also that the Asian American Gateway cable will have an emergency fix in the weekend when the panel will be shown, I felt much more confident that I made the right choice to pre-record a panel. Plus, I can interact with people in the chat without feeling like a multi-tasker.
People’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter over time, and it’s no joke to let people keep watching your panel if it’s dull or filled with dead air. Again, the key here is to keep it short, simple and sweet.
Coordinating with the organizer
Be sure to follow the event’s rules – being a panelist does not give you a higher ground. You’re still attending the con, only that you have one job to make – and it’s to entertain/inform your fellows in the platform which has been lent to you.
If the organizer has tech runs, please attend it. Tech runs gives the tech staff leeway to know which things needed to be sorted out. Don’t request for something important on the day of the panel itself. Be kind.
Once we have agreed to the arrangements, I sent the tech team the copy of my panel so they can prepare it over time.
You can also coordinate with your organizer if you won’t be active on the tentative time they have set up. I’m GMT+8 and they’re EDT, which means that 11pm of September 27 here is 11am of the same date.
The organizer can give you tools or tips to help you spread the word that you’re going to have a panel too, so ask them for it.
Have fun interacting
Best of all, have fun interacting with the audience. Be active – this is their time to ask you questions. Get their reactions.
I have a commitment to my respondents that I’ll share the results of the survey to all of them, the reason why I asked for their email addresses. As soon as I got time, I’ve returned to the responses and whipped up a white paper detailing the challenge, solution and reception to the said solution.
As soon as I’m done with the white paper, I’ll need to send it en masse to 191 respondents. There’s lots of email campaign apps around there, but choose the service where you can pay as you go, as you won’t do this for a longer time anyway.
The power of connections, plus your knowledge in making things work will prove to be helpful in making your panel, so continue learning in your field, keep abreast with the trends, and learn how to show yourself online. This way, you can make things a bit easier.
That’s how I produced my panel from scratch to white paper.
I thank KuroCon for giving me this birthday present. Just in time, I say.
I hope this helps you create your own panel. Happy making!