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.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.