Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What should seasoned panel moderators do to refresh and adjust?

If you're a seasoned moderator--one who knows the ropes so well she could moderate a panel in her sleep--it may be time for an adjustment to your moderating approach, both for your sake and the sake of the audience. Sleepwalking your way through a panel is a sure signal of disengagement, and the audience is going to follow your cue. So what do you need to do to refresh? Here are a few ideas:
  1. Shake up the order: Sometimes, shaking up the flow of a panel can help shake up your routine, too. Why not try a new order of event for your panel? Take 3 to 5 minutes of audience questions first (a great tactic if the topic is controversial), then have focused panelist presentations, then more questions. Or, make sure you ask a question of each panelist after her presentation, or that you lead or finish the Q&A with your own questions. There are lots of moving parts to panels. Take them apart and reorganize to try something new--just make sure your panelists know what to expect.
  2. Put yourself in a new position: If you've always moderated from behind the lectern and on the stage, try moving yourself to make your moderating experience fresh. Work from the audience, stand if you usually sit or vice versa, or move from one spot to another. Plan your moves, however, to be sure you are not distracting either the audience or the panel.
  3. Try tactics you haven't tried before: If you've never moderated to a theme, or tried a more creative line of questioning, try out one--or several, over the course of several panels. Giving yourself creative goals within your panel moderation task not only keeps it fresh, but expands the range of what you can do and offer next time.
  4. Set tighter limits...on yourself: If you don't try to work within time limits, set some for yourself for your next moderation gig--either for your open and close, or for the panel overall. Watching the clock adds an element of discomfort, but also helps you practice precision for the next time you really need it.
You'll find lots of options for refreshing your moderation skills in The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. Check out our suggestions for panel themes, creative lines of questioning, how to get speakers to stop talking, and more.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by UNU WIDER)

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, suitable for new or seasoned moderators. Find more tips on public speaking on The Eloquent Woman blog.