In Dallas, two panels were convened, featuring area activists and leaders. TIME.com noted:
But after two hours of sedate panels, a long line formed full of angry people yelling to be heard. They demanded to know what answers panelists had to stop police brutality, racial profiling and economic disparity. As each fuming questioner refused to be silenced by the moderator, the audience roared its approval.As one audience member put it:
“We had a community meeting, but we didn’t hear anything from the community,” said La’Shadion Anthony, Dallas Action Coalition. “We were told we can’t effect change in 24-hours. If we stand up all together we can get change … We had a panel about policies but we didn’t discuss any policies."What could a moderator have done to handle this situation better?
- Don't be a moderator who shies away from asking tough questions. In a tumultuous time, one way for the audience to feel heard is through the moderator's choice of questions. If you don't hold the panel's feet to the fire, the audience will. Feel free to let your panelists know of this plan in advance.
- Give the audience half of the allotted time. Calling on the speakers is just one half of the moderator's job. Don't neglect the audience.
- Don't approach audience anger as an umpire would. Your job is to let people be part of the discussion, not to break up a fight.
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Peter Burka)
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