What makes a good moderator? Let’s first understand what a moderator does so that we can understand the additional aspects of the job. Generally speaking, a moderator is the star of a panel. In order to ensure that the participants get the most out of the panel, the moderator directs the course of the discussion.
The introduction of the panelists and how they are steered during the activity are two other aspects of the moderator’s performance. A talented moderator who has knowledge about the subject of the panel is key for a successful activity.
People often confuse a moderator with an MC (Master of Ceremony). An MC and a moderator basically do similar jobs but an MC usually works as the person who is in complete charge of the event, let it be a summit, an award ceremony, a conference or a product launch. An MC is a moderator with a few more responsibilities in terms of the spectrum of the event.
Unlike the common understanding suggests, directing and managing a panel is not an easy task. Here some tips to do a good job if you have to moderate a panel.
8 Key Points
Experience - which comes from practice - plays a key role when you wish to master anything. It’s important to have a solid knowledge of certain points while gaining experience, as when you have a strong foundation, it will be easier to build on it. Here are eight tips for you to have a reliable foundation to perform as a good moderator.
1. Understanding Your Responsibilities
It is vital for the moderator to know and understand what he or she is expected to do during the panel. An original way of introducing the panelists, solid knowledge of the topic(s), giving the floor to the right speaker at the right time and watching the time being used by the panelists are the important components of the job. The moderator needs to have the necessary information about the panelists and the subject(s) and be able to take initiative when/if needed.
2. Keeping up with Daily News
Make sure you are familiar with current developments and social and political agenda before you perform as a moderator in a panel. Regardless of the subject, daily news and agenda may be relevant as you might be addressing the panelists according to the current events. When you engage the panelists this way, the participants will get a better understanding of the topic(s) and also enjoy the event more.
3. Doing Your Homework
In the case that you do not have enough knowledge about the subject matter of the panel, make sure you do a bit of research and do some learning. It’s always safer to do your homework, plus going through possible questions will make it easier on you to direct the panel.
4. Being Natural
Over-focusing on one point or presenting more than enough information about the topic may result in making you look and sound unnatural. You don’t want the participants to have difficulty in connecting with you. Remember, the moderator is a representative for the audience. You’re expected to ask questions on behalf of them and direct the course of the panel.
5. Asking Clever Questions
One of the power tools of the moderator is the possibility of asking questions. When the moderator asks the right questions, the panelists also perform better and the panel flows without issues. Presenting the right questions properly requires improved decision making skills.
This is also a great way of bringing in the panelists onto the floor who have been inactive during the speeches. Here are some examples to these type of questions:
Can you give us an example for what you have just mentioned?
Can you possibly clarify this or explain a bit more?
Anything you or anyone else to add about this matter?
It might not be a bad idea to ask yourself certain questions before you actually place your question.
Will the audience be interested in the answer to this question?
Can this question trigger an argument in the panel?
Will the answer contribute to the discussion or is it common knowledge?
6. Contacting the speakers/panelists prior to the event
Getting in touch with the speakers invited to the panel will serve as an ice-breaker and give you a chance to relax before the panel. The flow of the panel will also be better.
7. Improving your Facilitation Skills
A facilitator is a person whose role is to guide people through a process to an effective result. This process could be a meeting, a brainstorming session, training and development, a planning session, team building, conflict resolution, or any situation involving a group of people where there are desired outcomes, goals or targets. A good moderator is also a facilitator.
8. Observing and Following Successful Moderators
Watching and learning from successful examples will help you improve your own skills no matter what it is that you would like to achieve. Try and follow the footsteps of moderators who have proven themselves in this line of work.
You can also visit Speaker Agency’s website and view brief videos of our moderators or check what our expert moderators Maria Ramos, Nikki Dean, Susannah Streeter, Gareth Davies have to say about successful moderation. Please contact Speaker Agency for further information.
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