Great article by Dave Weinberger on why panels at conferences are silly and awful. My complaint is a little different. There never is enough time for each panelist to say what they really want to say, so they end up starting a big thought when BZZZZZZZZZ! Time’s up, and now the next person must speak.
Here’s what panels are good for: answering questions from the audience. When only one person is presenting, that presenter (with the authority that comes with standing before the podium) gives The Answer that audience members are supposed to write down. When an audience member poses a question to a panel, it become apparent that there is no Answer, that several qualified people can have honest differences of opinion.
I wrote an article with a similiar tone, Are Meetings Productive?