Leading a conference, seminar, or panel discussion is an art in itself. I have been blessed with moderator assignment for 20+ years. Here are nine tips for you who want to be a moderator yourself, or who need to hire someone good and want to get the basics right:
1. Understand the purpose of the event?
Why do they have the event? What is the effect they are after? What atmosphere does the client want to create? How can you contribute to it?
2. Understand what audience that each the speaker aim for
Find out if it is the same or different target groups. You need to understand what segment each speaker wants to reach. Your job is to represent the audience and at the same time “lift” the speaker.
3. Understand what goals each speaker set
What do they want the audience to know? What do they want them to feel? What do they want them to do?
4. Review the presenters’ PowerPoints in advance
You can then come up with some interesting questions that you could bring to the speaker before or after their presentation
5. Ask the speakers how they want to be introduced.
Even if you get a bio, find out. Build their credibility. Create the right atmosphere. For example, if the client wants an informal atmosphere, you can introduce the speakers by adding something personal. Also do your own research.
6. Ask the speakers what questions they want you to ask
This is not about being lazy, but rather preparing them. Dare to ask the “stupid questions”. The audience will thank you. When the audience is large, my advice is to skip audience questions. Otherwise, there is the risk that someone might ruin the mood that you and the speaker have built up.
7. Link one presentation to the other
The audience should feel completely safe with you as the MC, that there is a reason for the topics and the order in which they are presented.
8. Run a marathon – not 100 meters
The 100-meter race is for the speaker. You will be on stage (on visible on a screen) many times and therefore you need to save some of your energy. Instead of 100% it suffices with 85%. And this, of course, with continued commitment.
9. End on a positive note
Finish every part you do in major and not minor. Do not let anyone end with a negative comment before the speaker or the entire event ends.
Best of luck!
keynote speaker and moderator