Moderating a panel – whether in real-life or virtual – takes preparation and skill. There are steps a moderator can take to ensure the event runs smoothly and the audience comes away with the information they need.

Preparing to Moderate

  • Working with the event organizers and panel members, create bullet points for discussion. This will begin to lay out the structure of the panel, give the participants ideas for preparing their presentation, and help to ensure that each member of the panel has the chance to participate;
  • Hold a video conference call to familiarize the participants with the platform. This will give you the opportunity to check each person’s virtual set-up for the event for factors such as Wi-Fi strength, microphone quality, and lighting;
  • Working with the event marketing team, photos, social-media contact information, and short biographies of the speakers can be collected to be included in marketing materials;
  • Provide an outline in advance to each panel member to help standardize brief introductions for the start of the session;
  • Familiarize yourself with the topic at hand. Having case studies, examples, and questions can add to the discussion and keep things moving; and,
  • Decide who will moderate incoming questions from the audience and how these questions will be conveyed to you during the actual presentation.

Managing the Panel: 

  • Let the audience know that you will be monitoring the chat, how they can submit questions, if there will be a Q&A session after the panel, and where they can go for technical help if needed;
  • After the presenters’ introductions, let the first question be easy to allow the audience to get to know the panelists and help break the ice;
  • Allow panelists to interact and to debate, but interrupt anyone who is hogging the stage in order to keep the conversation balanced; and,
  • At the conclusion of the panel, be sure the audience knows how to contact the panelists (if allowed), find white papers, session recordings, etc.