So I can hear all of your opinions, below is a post
I just made to the Otakon 2007 Boards.
Would there be any way to have some sort of quality-control regarding panel selection for the next Otakon?
In the very least, I'd like to see panelists be required to submit a reasonable overview (more than a few sentences), a basic breakdown of the panel itself (rough times for different segments, broad topics), a draft version of any presentation slides they may be planning on using, and at least some sort of pitch as to why the panel should be picked up.
The important part isn't so much to evaluate the content, but instead to weed out panelists who, quite frankly, aren't willing to put forth the minimal effort required to run a worthwhile panel. If someone isn't willing or able to provide at least that minimal amount of work ahead of time, odds are they aren't really fit to run a panel in the first place.
I'm not saying that every panel has to be a professional production, or that only experts and industry should have them. I just would like to see at least a high-school level of presentation skills and a modicrum of planning/preparation.
Too many panels this year seemed to me to be completely unplanned. Panelists would set up late, start late, ramble to the crowd a bit, go off on tangents entirely unrelated to the topic at hand, make inside jokes to one another, or just talk to a few people in the front row. Several of the panels I attended featured panelists who didn't appear to actually know very much about the topic they had chosen or else lacked any measure of presentation ability. Many speakers didn't do much more than read their powerpoint slides. A couple couldn't even keep their audiences under any sort of control.
I won't mention specific panels here, as I don't wish to offend (though we did in our con report, as did Anime World Order and Fast Karate for the Gentleman, who seem to agree with us on this), but in general this is a problem that seems to be getting worse and worse with each passing year.
What can we do to make the panels at Otakon worthwhile? Is there any way to reasonably screen out poor panelists without creating too high of a barrier to entry?