“Make sure your phone is on silent, or at least on vibrate.” (pg 72, How To Avoid Hara-Kiri)
Panels are an important stable of anime conventions, and these days there’s no shortage on them. If you think of an idea for a panel, it’s probably been tried; many times in fact. Still, there’s no reason not to try your hand at running one yourself. Running a panel is an excellent way to connect with people you’d have difficult time bonding with elsewhere in the convention center.
Hosting one of these can be a daunting task; even registering for a panel can be a real hassle. There’s usually a huge waiting list, tons of red tape, and of course breakdowns in communications; sometimes from other panelists, sometimes from the convention staff. When doing the panel registration mambo, there are 2 major factors to consider. Number 1. The convention you’re applying to. Getting a panel approved at a smaller convention (say MangaNext) is a billion times easier than getting one at a mega convention (à la Otakon), in part because of their comparative sizes. Bigger cons [like Anime Boston] have a ridiculous amount of notoriety, with the attendance to match, so it stands to reason that there’s no shortage of panel submissions flooding their inbox. Smaller cons on the other hand (read: Nekocon, Momocon, etc), despite having decent notoriety, are small enough that not everyone and their grandmother will try to apply for a panel. Number 2. TIMING!!! It can be your best friend, but most times, it’s your worst enemy.
Panel registration is for the most part, first come, first served; especially with bigger cons. If you have an idea 6 months before the convention, apply yesterday, because if you take too long you may end up in registration limbo (ie – wait-listed), and [sometimes] you don’t want to get that last-minute approval of panel, as it can mess up your whole schedule, and you may not get a favorable location to host it in.
If it’s your first time doing something like this, it’s best not to do it alone. It’s a lot more fun to have co-panelists, you can feed off of each other, and it makes it easier to have water breaks when 1 person isn’t doing all the talking. Also, don’t think too much, it’s okay to be nervous but if you get stage fright, you probably shouldn’t be running a panel to begin with. Overall, it is a lot of work, but if done right, it can make for some great stories to tell people later at the con.