I have probably moderated around 100+ events for the Churchill Club over the last couple of years, and have realised that I now have a bit of experience moderating panels, which can be hard to come by. Although I believe I have nothing on Narelle Kennedy of the Australian Business Foundation, who is by far the best moderator I have ever seen because of her ability to run a panel at a break neck pace and keep the panellists honest, I have some thoughts I wanted to share on how to be a successful moderator.
Before the event. Do some research on the panellists and the topic so you don’t look like a fool on stage. Have enough questions prepared to move things along if the audience Q&A is a bit slow. Have either an agenda for the event to travel along, or a list of points that you feel you need to have covered. Also, make sure that the panellists are fully briefed on the mechanics and the objective of the event. I have also found, after suffering some considerable pain, that its an excellent idea to have the panellists reconfirm their attendance the week of the event.
At the start of the event. Initially you need to have a mechanism to gain the audience’s attention, then introduce yourself. You need to outline the rules of play – How long the event will go for, when/how to ask questions, whether the bar is still open, as well as some simple mechanics like “turn our mobiles to silent”, or twitter feed hash tags. Finally, introduce your topic and panel without stealing their thunder. Continue reading how to moderate an event