Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What kind of panel moderator will you be in 2017?

Whether you can't count all the panels you've moderated, or are just starting out on this challenging public speaking role, the new year is a good time to set some intentions for how you are going to approach panel moderation in 2017. I think panel moderation can be thought of in three categories that might help you see how you are going to change--or renew--your moderation this year:
  • Control: We appoint moderators with the hope that they will control the clock and the conversation, so how can you improve your controls in the proceedings this year? That might mean more announcing what you want to see happen, coming up with creative limits within your questions to panelists, or more thorough pre-panel discussions with organizers and panelists.
  • Content: Contrary to popular belief, the moderator wields a great deal of influence on a panel's content. Will you lead a panel with no slides and just discussion? Start with the audience's questions? Use more creative lines of questioning? 
  • Conversation: Moderators also can consider many ways to enliven the conversation started by the panel. You can alternate calling on men and women (and announce that you will do so), put creative limits on questions or answers from audience members or panelists, and learn new ways to move along long-winded questioners or answerers.
You also might want to think of a theme for your moderation this year, or adjectives that describe the type of moderator you want to be. 

Finally, I think all moderators should consider in the new year which types of panel moderation gigs they want to accept, and which don't make the cut. That might mean eliminating moderation for poorly organized conferences, or seeking out more high-profile moderation gigs, for example. Then be sure you enforce your choices so that you can look back on 2017 as a satisfying year of moderating panels. 

(Creative Commons licensed photo by the Brookings Institution)

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.