Though I’ve been attending anime conventions since around 2008, I never imagined myself running a panel at a con. I would go to these grand annual gatherings of fellow weebs and nerds just enjoying my otaku interests with those who were like minded, and more recently got into the artists alley scene selling my own wares at conventions.
However, running a panel at a con is a magical and sometimes surreal experience all of its own, and I love it.
For those who are unfamiliar with anime con culture, a “panel” is a usually hour long event that takes place in one of the many rooms located at the convention center. These events normally consist of presentations hosted by both professional guests and casual convention attendees, which means anyone can apply to hold a panel at a con. Subjects can be anything otaku related, from art workshops to niche anime fandoms or lolita fashion discussion, the fans here have free range to decide on subjects of interest.
Last year, my friend David Maiman and I started an indie game company named Chaos Cute Soft, and since many of our friends have joined together to produce our first visual novel. It was also his idea to take our passion for anime games on the road: to create a Visual Novel panel to present at anime cons across the East Coast!
I’m not going to go into what Visual Novels are at the moment, since that could take yup a whole other blog post, but if you don’t know what they are just know that it is a genre of narrative video games. We decided to create a panel focusing on the history of the medium and recommended games.
It was finally time to present our first panel. At Kotoricon 2020, a local con based in New Jersey, we ended up having over 50 people at our panel and even had a surprise visit from Monika of Doki Doki Literature Club fame, so I’d have to say it was a success! (You can see the live stream of out panel on our facebook page here.)
Now that I’ve had experience running a panel, here are some things I suggest if you’re going to be holding a panel for the first time:
- What is your panel going to be about? Is there a specific niche you want to tackle, a certain target audience you’re aiming for? Make sure to figure this out first.
- Do you know anyone who is willing to work on the panel with you and/or go to conventions to present it together? Having more people will help cut down the time it takes to create the presentation, and having several opinions will help to create a well-rounded panel. Plus, there’s the added bonus that going to cons together with friends is fun! 🙂
- Make sure everyone reviews the presentation to check for spelling and grammar, and to fact check the information being presented (wouldn’t want to have a smart alec attending your panel correcting you because you mixed up the names of two anime characters, would you?)
- PRACTICE!! Once the presentation is finished make sure to practice at least once with your team to make sure everyone knows their lines and also check how long it takes to present your panel from start to finish. I recommend making the panel 30-45 minutes to leave room for free discussion/Q&A at the end and to make sure you don’t pass the 1 hour mark by accident.
- And now your ready! Dress in some sick cosplay, feel beautiful and confident, and present your awesome panel! Just make sure you know where the panel room is beforehand and get there early to set up.
Conclusion: While putting together a panel can take time and dedication, with the right team and passion for the subject you can put together a great presentation and make some memories as well!
And that’s it! Good luck with creating your awesome panel 🙂 What’s the best panel you’ve ever seen at an anime con? Let us know in the comments below, and check out David’s blog on Kotoricon 2020 here. Thanks for reading! <3