How Not to Sit Like a Lady During a Panel Discussion

I was recently in the audience supporting a friend’s participation in a panel discussion about a new online feature. On this expert panel were two women and one man. So far, this is a pretty boring post but there are three important, and I mean important things to note in this story:

  1. Panel discussions often require a panelist to sit on a stool slightly raised above the audience’s eye-level so that everyone can see the panelists. So far, not a problem move on to #2.
  2. Two of the panelists were women. Again, no big deal, move on to #3.
  3. One of the women was wearing a fashionably short dress. This is a problem (see #1)!
Disaster struck the panelist wearing the short dress (not my friend by the by)! The audience saw way too much of this expert’s….”inner-upper-thigh area” and beyond. The real tradgedy of all this is that the audience was so focused on not looking that they did not hear a word of what she had carefully prepared for the discussion. She lost a lot of credability simply because of this one oversight. The respectable men in the audience were extra uncomfortable (the pervs in the audience probably enjoyed the show)*.

Here’s a bit of advice on being a modern, professional woman that no one ever teaches you:

Three Rules For What To Wear While Sitting On An Expert Panel

  1. Before you decide to wear a skirt/dress to your next panel discussion, be sure to consider what you might be asked to sit on, how you might have to sit, and how short your skirt can be.
  2. If you are not sure, or have any concerns, just wear pants.
  3. If you find yourself on an emergency expert panel and are wearing a short skirt (emergency panels could happen), then sit with your legs locked together and turn elegantly to the side while facing the audience. You may get tired but it’s better than giving everyone a show and bruising your expert reputation.
Honestly, you can’t blame this individual.  Before seeing this unfortunate event, I never ever would have thought about this. I mean, when you get dressed in the morning do you check to see how you might look sitting slightly raised up in front of an audience? For most of us the answer would be “no”.


It’s a minefield out there professional ladies! Watch yourself and be sure to keep your individual peep shows out of professional situations and save them for special extrovert occasions.

Want more sitting tips?

* How do I know the respectable men in the audience were uncomfortable? My boss was in the audience and he first alerted me to the issue via horrified text, to quote him, “Brittney Spears here should listen to her own privacy advice. Killing me.” He had a perfect view of all the panelists and was trying to position other audience members’ heads in his line of vision so he wouldn’t have to look at the “area”.  You know, ’cause he’s a nice guy, has young daughters, and he’s not a jerk.
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2 comments on “How Not to Sit Like a Lady During a Panel Discussion

  1. Moriya says:

    Great advice! I’m sitting on an alumni panel in a month at career day at the college I went to. I think I’ll wear pants!!

  2. Karen Phillips says:

    Very useful. Not the kind of attention one wants when sitting on a panel.

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