You were asked to be the moderator because you are an expert, so be an expert moderator by shining the spotlight where it belongs – on the panelists. Related: 6 Steps to Overcoming Stage Fright and Giving a Presentation Everybody Listens To. “Say a panelist is with a firm that's currently in the midst of a crisis, or being closely watched by the media. “It should not favor any one particular speaker’s point of view over another, and the moderator should ensure that the conversation is balanced.”. We’ve all seen this happen. Everyone agrees with each other about everything. How to Prepare for a Speaking Gig. The moderator slot, which is often the most challenging, is typically saved for the best listeners who also have a knack for the “art of conversation.” These folks are great at improvisation, know a tremendous amount about any given subject, and understand what it takes to avoid facilitating an audience slumber party. Although not as obvious, Khurana makes a final observation that I think is an important one: “Another important aspect for a moderator to keep in mind is that the conversation should not be biased,” says Khurana. Your role is to essentially be a well-informed Switzerland. “Know everything you can about your panelists and the topic,” says Porter Gale, author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth and moderator exemplar. Don’t make up your mind about the topic. How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion. 6 Steps to Overcoming Stage Fright and Giving a Presentation Everybody Listens To. The moderator sets the tone, the pace and control of the content, staying ever-vigilant in keeping it relevant for the audience. If you’re naturally good at public speaking and can keep an audience engaged for at least thirty minutes straight, keynotes and presentations may be your thing. “An effective moderator is one who ensures that each panel member gets equal time to provide his or her views on a particular topic of discussion,” says Dippak Khurana, co-founder and CEO of Vserv. Amplify your business knowledge and reach your full entrepreneurial potential with Entrepreneur Insider’s exclusive benefits. It's like herding cats. Eventually, someone on a panel you moderate is … Your job is to save the conversation for the panel, the audience, and maintain the dignity of the unfortunate person who is rabbiting on long after the point has been made.”. (The art is in the follow-ups.) Now that you are armed with the best moderator tips out there, off you go to rule the conference circuit world. 3. Panel #fails usually happen for three reasons: 2. As moderator, you’ll introduce the topic within the first few minutes. Related: So, You're an Industry Expert Now? While, to date, I have not heard of PowerPoint being arrested on criminal charges, you get the point. Make them look smart and you’ll look smart. 3 Popular Panel Discussion Formats Ask them to respond honestly and to each other, … Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. It can grow dangerously uncomfortable for everyone involved. Copyright © 2020 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved. So, in addition to making sure you know what they are speaking to, also find out if there are issues they are not comfortable addressing. Check out these dos and don’ts from some of the best moderators in the biz before taking the plunge, and you’ll be well on your way to nailing it. “The poor woman was backstage, sick to her stomach moments before we were 'on.' Khurana points out: “It is important to entertain, enrich and thereby engage the audience by breaking conventional conversations and pushing the panel members to come up with interesting content.”. “This might sound like overkill, but it's really not,” says Shonali Burke, who regularly moderates panels and coaches her clients on the subject as well. An introductory slide with the Wi-Fi information is also very useful to attendees. If you’re an expert who enjoys sparring with your peers, then your PR dream team will probably pitch you as a panelist extraordinaire. As a panel moderator, asking insightful and interesting questions is one of your biggest responsibilities. Plus, enjoy a FREE 1-year. So, You're an Industry Expert Now? Try to take a collaborative role with the event organizer - this is the type of pitfall an experienced moderator can head off at the pass.”. So…think you’re up for moderating a panel with Dell’s C-suite, Amazon’s IT executives, or Microsoft’s founders? While this may seem counterintuitive, I’ve taken this tip to heart and it has made my life, and everyone else’s, much easier. Your panelists will thank you, as will their executive assistants, PR reps, and anyone else who may be part of their posse. HINT: When people are literally falling asleep, or obsessively checking their devices every 10 seconds out of sheer boredom, then you have a code-red slumber party situation. In the discussion, it’s the panelist’s job to provide and shape arguments, while yours, as a moderator, is to ensure the panel discussion flows and the audience is getting the most out of it. That means you know other experts on the topic, and if they're good at speaking (or not). This reiterates the importance of the moderator, and how tricky this job can be. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else. You were presumably asked to moderate because you have domain expertise. A trick I use that has not only made me more comfortable, but can prove to be a slumber party hack: Pick three or four people to chat with a few minutes before you kick off the discussion, find out where they are from, why they are there, what interests them and if they are comfortable sharing their thoughts throughout the panel, then weave their contributions into the conversation. “Avoid phrases such as, ‘That’s a … Knowing what they officially can or can't speak to ahead of time - and how to professionally draw that line during the panel if needed - will relieve a great deal of stress on their part, which will make your job a little easier.”. Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Eventually, someone on a panel you moderate is going to develop a serious case of motor mouth. We've all heard enough stories of "death by PowerPoint." You want to make sure your panelists are really comfortable. The fourth-wall thing is useful during Shakespearean theater performances and the ballet, but something truly special happens if you can integrate the audience throughout a panel. “I was once saddled with a highly qualified panelist who had never before spoken in public,” reflects Lieb. Lieb’s advice here is spot on: “Know how to cut someone off, definitively but politely. Never take sides or express your own opinions. As a moderator, it’s your job to pay attention to the clock! 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers, Try This Weird Trick to Improve Your Public Speaking, Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking With This $40 Course, Why You Should Stop Memorizing Your Speeches and Stories, 4 Ways to Survive a Crisis as a Public Speaker, 9 Top Speakers Transforming Crisis into Opportunity. The panelists are self-involved and boring. Examples could include past career moves, personal stories, quotes from presentations they’ve given or articles they’ve written.”, As digital media and advertising analyst for Altimeter Group, Rebecca Lieb has moderated her fair share of panels: “Don't break your neck getting your panelists on an advance call. How to Prepare for a Speaking Gig. Don’t let a panelist go too far down the rabbit hole. Related: 7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers. Are you paying too much for business insurance? Start with a short, interesting hook to grab everyone’s attention, then share something about yourself and explain how you will introduce the panelists and facilitate the session. It is the moderator’s responsibility to make sure … Give your panelists the OK to speak up out of turn. A truly great moderator will intervene if one panelist is taking majority of the time (see #4 above), if a panelist is veering off-topic, or if the general conversation is careening into no man’s land. -Tom Webster, writer, speaker, and panel moderator. 10 Ways Panel Moderators Can Manage Time Effectively During a Panel Discussion. I understand that the data I am submitting will be used to provide me with the above-described products and/or services and communications in connection therewith. “Meet as many people in the audience as you can prior to the panel and include their stories or comment about their business in the dialog,” adds Gale. This is spectacular advice. But first you’ll need to prepare for the session. The first question is irrelevant. As an entrepreneur, part of any solid marketing and public relations plan will likely involve you (or key spokespeople from your company) hitting what I like to call the “speaker-panelist-moderator” circuit. “If you're creating slides, encourage your panelists to keep them as visual as possible,” adds Burke. For just $5 per month, get access to premium content, webinars, an ad-free experience, and more! “Additionally, if you're using slides, insert a pre-determined hashtag on each of them, as well as the panelists' Twitter handles; this makes it much easier for live-tweeting to take place. Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.