How not to moderate

The Showman interviewer with blank. Young elegant man holding microphone against white background.Showman concept.If you ever moderate a panel, here’s a list of things you don’t want to do:

  1. Mispronounce everything—names, titles, awards, everything. Why should you be ready?
  2. Introduce everyone in one fell swoop. The audience will never associate your introduction with the panelist you’ve introduced and will easily forget what each brings to the party.
  3. Spend the first 20 minutes reading the introductions. The tedium! Everyone will stop listening and forget who is who before the panelists begin to speak. Really, don’t even look up.
  4. Dominate everything. Make it about you, not the experts.
  5. Yet, step back during the Q&A. Forget bringing a steady hand to the proceedings, fielding questions and assigning them to the one best qualified to answer. Let ‘em fend for themselves.

One of us recently attended a panel discussion moderated in just that way. It was a disaster. Take a note from Toastmasters. Rory Vaden, second-place winner of the 2007 Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, once compared the roles of speaker vs. moderator: “When you are the speaker, the spotlight is on you. When you are the moderator, you become the spotlight operator. It’s your job to make the panelists look good and you should fade away into the background.”