Not only preparation but also facilitation plays a crucial role in organizing events and conferences. Selecting a moderator is, therefore, one of the most important decisions event managers have to do. In this context, a moderator is a person who guides the audience through the agenda and moderates panel discussions. Besides the ability to get the full attention of the audience, this person needs to bring the panel discussion to life.
It’s not surprising that the moderator always has a huge impact on the success of the whole event and you should not underestimate the process of selecting the right one. Here are some tips and good case practices to help you! 🚀
Moderator from Your Own Team
The least risky choice is choosing a moderator within your event planning team. This person knows exactly what the event topic is about, who the speakers are, who the audience is, and what do you want to deliver to your attendees. By selecting a moderator from your own team, you eliminate the risk of misunderstanding the responsibilities given to him/her. However, choose the person wisely, not everyone feels comfortable in this role.
Felix Zeltner from Work Awesome Group LLC is an event manager and a journalist at the same time. According to him, journalists are great for facilitating an interesting panel discussion, because journalists master the craft of asking good questions and follow-ups. A moderator should not shy away from asking tough and difficult questions, creating controversy, or provoking a little bit. Journalists can create stories and ask interesting questions which can be mind-blowing, surprising, and make you think more deeply. Besides that, they are communicative and know how to improvise in difficult and unexpected situations.
TV or Radio presenter
Tv or radio presenters are used to react to unexpected or unpleasant situations. Moreover, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to get the attention of attendees and to predict and evaluate their reactions. This is confirmed by Tomáš Pernis from Skanska, who recommends choosing TV or radio presenters as event moderators. However, he doesn’t recommend choosing a well-known person, because he or she could possibly draw the attention of the audience in the wrong way. In addition, it is nice to introduce a new and fresh face to the audience.
If you have an event that focuses on one specific subject, it’s always a good idea to choose an expert from the field or a person who has a relation to the subject. The ultimate benefit is that the person is able to share their point of view and comment on the topic of each lecture. However, besides the expertise, the person needs to have skills to deal with the role of a moderator. It is not a good idea to choose an expert who can't communicate with the audience.
Now, let's take a look at the needed skills for a moderator.
I would love to give you the right answer to this question, however, it always depends on the function he/she will fulfill at your event. You might be focused on searching for a great interviewer, debater, interaction creator, role model, master of Q&A, timekeeper, comedian, etc. It is necessary to think about this in advance. The role should be aligned with the whole agenda. Only after you figure this out, you can write a list of skills that your ideal moderator needs to have in order to facilitate the role properly.
Every moderator has a unique personality and characteristics...and so does your event! The personality of a moderator should be aligned with the characteristics of the audience. Think about what the audience has in common. Of course, there are some general characteristics that your moderator should have like being entertaining and confident. The ideal moderator should be well-organized, friendly, a little bit provocative, punctual, and a little bit funny with a touch of modesty. Once again, you should prioritize the characteristics which are aligned with your target audience.
Remember, the universal moderator who fits every kind of event just does not exist. Make sure you are clear about their role at your event and about the characteristics of your audience. Then you can start to search for one that is right for your event. Good Luck! ❤️