Tuesday, July 21, 2015

4 surprising things I've learned about moderating panels

If you're one of the people who thinks of panel moderation as a straightforward and clear-cut task, I admire you. My experience as a seasoned panel moderator is the opposite: Anything can, and often does, happen. All that varied experience has helped me glean some surprising skill sets, things I've learned as a panel moderator that I wouldn't have guessed I needed when I started out. They include:
  1. Panel moderation isn't just for beginning speakers: Moderating has at least on thing in common with being a speaker on a panel: It's an ideal stepping stone for a speaker starting out. But panels sometimes require deft on-the-spot management that only a seasoned speaker can bring.
  2. Introducing panelists well takes work: One of the biggest missed opportunities I see in panel moderators, introductions should be much more than reading the bio the speaker just handed you. What's more, intros are a great way for moderators to shine. Passing that up would be a mistake.
  3. Organizers and speakers aren't always on the same page: And the moderator's in the middle. Juggling those two sets of expectations, and those of the audience, will be one of your biggest challenges.
  4. You've got to be willing to interrupt: When moderators lose muscle, they don't rein in the speakers...and the audience (and the organizers) lose. Learning smart ways to interrupt speakers on your panel is a critical skill.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Novartis AG)

Need more coaching on how to be a better panel moderator? Order the new ebook The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 and available in many formats, it's a great back-pocket coach to take on stage with you in your smartphone or tablet. Find more tips on public speaking on The Eloquent Woman blog.