Frameworks for panel moderation

As someone who’s moderated a few conference panels in recent months, and is preparing for doing another one in June, I found Guy Kawasaki’s tips on how to be a great moderator quite useful:

  • Don’t over-prepare the panelists.
  • Do prepare yourself in advance.
  • Never let panelists use PowerPoint.
  • Never let panelists use anything special.
  • Make them introduce themselves in thirty seconds.
  • Break eye contact with the panelists.
  • Make everyone else look smart.
  • Stand up for the audience.
  • Involve the audience.
  • Seize the day.

See Guy’s post for his detailed explanations with each point.

This fits with my belief that conferences are about frameworks and participation as I wrote about on my old blog in January:

[…] The speaker’s/presenter’s responsibility is to use [the environment created by the event organizer] as his or her own framework to provide the means to stimulate engagement with the people who have showed up at the event. So that means things like no boring PowerPoints, no panels full of talking heads just having a nice little chat with each other, etc. You know the kind of thing I mean.

Instead, it means speakers and presenters who really do participate with their audience, making that audience an integral part of the session. In effect, everyone there is the panel or presentation where the (so-called) presenter or speaker is a conversation leader and focus former. Now there’s a convoluted label!.

Those attending have a responsibility, too – actively participate, not just sit there like glazed-eyed mute dummies where you can see the bodies are physically in the room but the minds are absent.

This was definitely illustrated by the quality of panels, speakers and participants at the New Communications Forum earlier this month, the most recent conference I took part in. Good organization of an event is key to creating the most effective environment for participation. The two organizers of the Forum – Jen McClure and Elizabeth Albrycht – should take great pride in that fact.

California pics on Flickr

I’ve just uploaded a bunch of photos to Flickr, all re my California trip including lots from the New Communications Forum. You can see the set here. Also, check out all the tagged Forum photos at Flickr.

Here’s a favourite – Shel and I with Jeff Clavier (on the left) and Sallie Goetsch, two of the regular listeners to FIR:

Pic taken for us with my camera by Elizabeth Albrycht. (Click on the image to see a bigger version at Flickr.)

More to come.

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NCF2006: Hear the feedback

It’s been a tremendous week here in California! The New Communications Forum in Palo Alto was an outstanding professional development and networking event and I am very pleased indeed to have been part of it.

I wish I’d been able to post more about the Forum than I was able to. But lots of other participants have done that, so there is a rich seam of commentary and opinion to mine. I’ll be posting a bit more during the next few days before I get back to Amsterdam next week.

Jen McClure and Elizabeth Albrycht did a fantastic job organizing this event. And Matt Galloway has done something really interesting – he’s set up the New Communications Forum Buzz-o-Phone where every participant can phone-in comments and opinions about the event, and anyone can listen to those comments:

[…] The idea is simple: at any time during the conference you may call a toll-free number and record your thoughts about the conference […] Within a few minutes, your recording will be released to the world in a special podcast. […] Why? I thought that instead of trying to capture the essence of the conference in a cold dry blog post or two, that it would be much more interesting to hear directly from lots of different conference attendees. This will be a lot more fun if you call and offer up your two cents.

Fun indeed. And it works if you call the 800 number from a non-US phone (you just add +1 and you pay for the call). I did my two cents as have quite a few others. Now you can listen to what everyone is saying about the event. Neat concept, Matt.

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For Immediate Release Mashup Edition – March 2, 2006

The Rock and Roll Geek Show‘s Michael Butler interviews FIR‘s Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz and On the Record Online‘s Eric Schwartzman at the New Communications Forum, Palo Alto, California, USA.

download For Immediate Release podcast

A 57-minute podcast. Download the file here (MP3, 39MB), or sign up for the RSS feed to get it and future FIR shows automatically. (For automatic synchronization with your iPod or other digital player, you’ll also need a podcatcher such as the free Juice, DopplerRadio, iTunes or Yahoo! Podcasts, or an RSS aggregator that supports podcasts such as FeedDemon).

Listen to this podcast now:

FIR Show Notes links
Links for the blogs, individuals, companies and organizations we discussed or mentioned in the show are posted to the FIR Show Links pages at The New PR Wiki. You can contribute – see the home page for info.

If you have comments or questions about this show, or suggestions for our future shows, email us at, or call the Comment Line at +1 206 222 2803. You can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments, if you wish (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

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The Hobson & Holtz Report – Podcast #116: March 2, 2006

Content summary: Special edition live at the New Communications Forum; Neville and Shel announce a podcasting-book deal with McGraw-Hill; conversations with John Cass, Jeremy Wright, Jory des Jardins, Elisa Camahort, Debbie Weil, Michael Geoghegan, Shel Israel, Philip Young; report from Dan York; Eric Schwartzman in conversation with Phil Gomes; Stephen Turcotte talks to Robert Scoble and Sam Decker; listeners’ comments discussion (e-workplace applications, not coming to Canada, pronunciation guide, Edelman blogging conference in Germany, approvals for internal podcasting); the music; and more.

Show notes for March 2, 2006

Recording show #116 at the New Communications Forum
(Photo by Philip Young)

download For Immediate Release podcast

Welcome to For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report, an 81-minute podcast recorded live from the New Communications Forum conference, Palo Alto, California, USA.

Download the file here (MP3, 32MB), or sign up for the RSS feed to get it and future shows automatically. (For automatic synchronization with your iPod or other digital player, you’ll also need a podcatcher such as the free Juice, DopplerRadio, iTunes or Yahoo! Podcasts, or an RSS aggregator that supports podcasts such as FeedDemon).

Listen to this podcast now:

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NCF2006: Prep for podcast

It’s just gone midday. I’ve had to miss out on the sessions this morning at the New Communications Forum – some client work that needed attention plus one of us (Shel or I) had to prep for doing show #116 of FIR The Hobson & Holtz Report.

We’ll be recording this edition live from the conference here in Palo Alto and we hope to include live commentaries, opinions and anything else anyone wants to say by some of the participants here.

Plus a little announcement from Shel and I.

Today’s show will be the very first time that we have both been physically in the same place to record a show. Not via Skype but together. Should be interesting as anything could happen!

Stay tuned.

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