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!