If you have ever served on a panel or been in the audience, you know how important the moderator is to the success of the panel. You probably didn’t even give the moderator much thought, especially if it went smoothly.
What if you are asked to moderate a panel?
Here are a few things a moderator must do well –
- Provide your panelists with a list of at least three questions with which you plan to open the session. The point is for them to pull thoughts together ahead of time, not to script answers. They may also suggest additional questions.
- Have more questions than you need. There is nothing worse than silence from a panel.
- Confirm the pronunciation of each person’s name.
- Share a few highlights of their credentials. The full details should be available in the program book.
- Spread the questions among the panelists, who should get equal time during the main session.
- Prepare “cutoff phrases” that allow you to interject should a panelist dominate the discussion. The same holds true when an audience member rambles on instead of asking a question.
- End on time. The panelists will thank you and so will the audience, which is already thinking ahead to the next session they will attend or the emails they need to respond to on break.