TUESDAY TIP: Moderate like a pro

We outlined how to be a good panelist last week, so it only makes sense that we’d talk about how to be a good moderator this week. Because let’s be real – it takes both cooperative panelists AND an effective moderator to pull this off.

Moderators have a tough gig. It’s your responsibility to create smooth transitions between the audience welcome, panelist introductions, panelist presentations, and Q&A. You keep the trains running on time all while dodging the spotlight.

If you’re staring down the responsibility of “panel moderator” this conference season, keep in mind that not all heroes wear capes. Here’s our best advice on how to moderate like a pro:

1) Start with a hook. Think: Why is this topic relevant? And then open your monologue with a recent data point, example, or quote to illustrate why this topic is relevant.

2) Ask the panelists for a preferred bio. Website bios are often too long, so you need to figure out what highlights to read. As you choose the highlights, check with the panelists ahead of time to make sure they approve your edits. Also, if you have a personal connection to the person you’re introducing, or just read their book, or saw them speak, or watched them nail a media interview, mention it.

3) DO NOT let an audience member hijack the Q&A. Really, this is your one job. If you do nothing else, everyone in attendance will be grateful for your ability to prevent this from happening. Make it clear that you will only take questions (not comments!) and they better be brief. And if someone decides to break these very easy to follow rules, you have the power to interrupt them and restore order.

Keep these three points in mind and you’ll knock this opportunity out of the park. Here’s to a great conference season!

TUESDAY TIP: How to be a successful panelist

It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year: CONFERENCE SEASON!!

With only a few weeks to go until we travel to far-off places to network and learn things, let’s take a minute to address one of the trickier situations you may find yourself in.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been asked to speak on a panel.

Not as easy as it seems, right?

Panels involve a lot of moving pieces: you’re introduced, you present, you sit quietly while the other panelists present, and then you field questions from the audience.

Beyond your prepared remarks, there’s a lot to remember about who to look at and when, what to do with your hands when you’re not speaking, etc.

But we want you to survive (and thrive!), so we’ve laid a few ground rules:

1) Eyes. The rule is to look at whoever is speaking – fellow panelist, moderator, audience member. And if you are speaking, look at the audience.

2) Hands. Rest your hands on the table. Doing so will help you sit up tall and make it easier for you to take notes.

3) Voice. Even though you’ll have a microphone in front of you, it’s always a good idea to project your voice. The audience will be better able to hear you and you’ll seem very confident in your delivery.

A panel invite is an exciting opportunity. It means someone considers you an expert! So as you prepare to travel to a conference (or three) in the next few months, don’t forget about the visual aspect of your participation as well. How you look and move matters just as much as what you say.