The Panelist’s Prayer

by Pari Noskin Taichert

Lord, save me from book raisers.
    Stay their hands.
    Lay their volumes upon the table . . . flat.
    If nothing else works, let the pages of their books fly unto the ground like ginko leaves in autumn.
Protect me from panelists who put down cohorts to raise self worth.
    Still their snipes.
    Silence too-frequent references to their own tomes.
    Melt their freebies.
Yea, verily, this I pray.

Liberate me from microphone hogs.
    Prohibit their ponderous verbosities.
    Give them short breath . . . or loose bowels.
O, Most High, keep moderators on track.
    Let them read their panelists’ works.
    Bless them with interesting topics and salient questions.
    Grant them humility in this one situation.
Yea, verily, this I pray.

Exalted One, give the room thick walls . . .
    Lest my panel be overpowered by the laughter next door.
    Lest my answers fail because of an off-key rock band practicing for a debutante ball.
Merciful One, may all the panelists be witty and articulate.
    May they respond in conversation rather than in the linear to-and-fro of a lengthy table.
    May they listen to other’s comments.
    May they answer the damn questions.
Yea, verily, this I pray.

Show mercy upon our audiences.
    Let us entertain them mightily and bore them not.
    Let us inspire curiosity and chase away slumber.
    Let our audiovisual equipment work.
Heavenly One, grant that the convention bar is big and the drinks generous.
    Encourage graceful communication.
    Free me from embarrassing gaffes that find their way onto the Internet and listservs.
    Keep the hotel food safe and devoid of salmonella and listeria.
Yea, verily, this I pray.

O, Joyous One, protect me from anger, jealousy, or a sense of entitlement.
    Give me the serenity to be myself.
    Bless me with the intelligence to retire to privacy before I become a boor in public.

Bring pleasure and success to both panelist and fan.
These things I pray.


21 thoughts on “The Panelist’s Prayer

  1. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Hey, all,

    Yea, verily, it’s a cloudy morning in Alb.

    I came to the computer with a tad of dread. Sometimes when you write something, you think you know how people will read it . . . thank goodness it hasn’t been misinterpreted yet (or, that the people who might be offended haven’t commented).

    J.D., Paul and J.T., great to see you this morn.

    Bill, um . . . how big are your arms?

  2. Elaine Flinn

    Like they say in the South (I think) – “Good On ‘Ya”!!

    I particularly love the ‘Give me the serenity to be myself’ – something I believe in most whole heartedly. Of course, it does get me in trouble now and then… but what the hell, huh? Being able to look in the mirror at the end of the day is priceless.

    Great post, Pari! I’m so damned proud of you.

  3. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Louise,I’m delighted to help with your spirituality (heh heh).

    Elaine,I’ve never known you NOT to be yourself. Glad you enjoyed the piece.

    A small part of me hopes this is adopted in the manner of Barry E’s moderator’s manifesto. Ya know?

  4. Naomi


    Since I’m not out on the convention circuit that often, it took me a couple of reads to get “book raisers”! Maybe you got me in a overly spiritual mood and I was picturing these book hovering in the air. I gotcha now. Duh.

    I’ve never experienced a fellow panelist cutting down another. Does this really happen that often?

    Naive Naomi

  5. JT Ellison

    It’s a good thought, because Barry’s manifesto was the first thing I thought of when I read this.I haven’t been on a panel yet, but I will print this out and stash it in my notebook for that time. I agree with the being yourself part too. It’s great advice all around. Miss P.

  6. Bill Cameron

    I’m Popeye!

    Okay, no, I’m not.

    It’ll have to be tiny letters, and I’ll have to carry a magnifying glass. If I’m ever on a panel the audience can wonder why I’m inspecting my forearms so closely.

  7. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Naomi,I thought I’d get a few head scratches with the “book raisers” comment, but had *faith* that everyone would figure it out in the end.

    As to people putting down others to look good — thank goodness it’s a rare occurrence. I wouldn’t have even thought of it but for my last panel at a convention when a snipe was directed at me.

    I know at another convention, someone thought I’d done a similar thing to her — I hadn’t, but she interpreted it that way . . .

    Sometimes, in the effort to sound intelligent, we misspeak and it comes out as a cut on someone else.

    I will say this though: Once in a decade, it’s appropriate to negate a fellow panelist but, I’d hope the intent would be to make a point about the topic, not to make oneself look good at that panelist’s expense.

    Am I making sense?

  8. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Bill,I think that might make many a panel more interesting.

    Mark,You’re not ignorant. I just needed a shorthand way to refer to the authors on panels who raise their books each time they answer a question.

    Here’s how it goes:”Well, in my first book, I . . . ” at this point the author raises his book in the air so everyone in the front row can see the cover.

    And then a few minutes later, “Well, in my second book, I . . . “

    This happens with an odd frequency with some authors and I think it’s not appreciated by the audience after one or two times in a single panel.

    It’s mate is the verbal book-raising where an author prefaces every answer with a reference to his or her book.

    After awhile, this becomes tiresome and too stiffly self-promoting.

    To me, the audience wants a different experience than a live advertisement.


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