Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First-time panel moderators share experiences, tips

The slate of journalist-moderators for the U.S. presidential campaign debates has just been announced, and all of the moderators have one thing in common: This will be their first time moderating a debate.

Whether you're doing a high-profile presidential debate's moderation or a standard conference panel, if it's your first moderator gig, congratulations! I say that because you have less to unlearn than a seasoned panel moderator with bad habits.

The other big advantage many first-time moderators have lies in their willingness to research and then share their newfound knowledge with others. Here are four first-timer's insights on how to approach panel moderation:
  1. Cate Huston shared on this blog her approach to moderating a panel at Beyond the Code, including how she prepared, her guidance for panelists, and her thoughts on the three roles of a moderator. I'm honored that she also found good ideas in my ebook (link below) and shared it with all the panelists: "Recommending Denise’s book to all panelists was an act of genius. At the end when I thanked everyone one of them commented that because I’d encouraged them to read this book they all knew how hard I had worked!" she wrote.
  2. Inspired by Cate, Yash Prabhu decided to try her hand at moderating an Android Alliance panel for the first time. She also consulted my book, and shares how she developed themes, prepared the panelists, and handled Q&A, noting a result I think is a great success for any moderator, seasoned or novice: "The audience was very involved in the panel and asked some great questions. Many of them stuck around to ask questions after the panel."
  3. MJ Schindler's What I learned from moderating a panel for the first time at Digital Summit Atlanta includes useful copies of her advance emails to panelists, sharing the questions she envisioned, and more, so other first-time moderators have a concrete model to follow.
  4. Joyce Stack's How I prepared for moderating my first panel at the API Strategy and Practice Summit is actually what she was thinking as she was flying to the panel, so it's loaded with advice she had before the panel actually took place--perhaps a good way for you anticipate what prep looks and feels like. I liked this piece of advice: "Accept that you will not please everyone. It's hard at conferences right – you have the noobs and the experts and it’s really difficult to please everybody. Just accept it."
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Marc Delforge)

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.