A lesson in moderating panels

MIPIM waterfront

The first panel I moderated, I was thrown in at the deep end. There was no training or coaching; it was just a case of taking a deep breath and muddling through as best I could.

Moderating was always seen as part of my job as a senior B2B journalist, not quite an expectation but actively encouraged.

‘Performance journalism’ I called it – asking questions in front of an audience – but it wasn’t something I thought about or signed up for when considering the job.

That first panel was terrifying but I survived, learned a lot and continued to learn from subsequent sessions.

When I was in the audience for panels, I found myself watching the moderator, analysing what they were doing to see what I could learn.

No practical advice

I had good feedback when I moderated which boosts confidence, of course, but no one ever offered tips or practical advice. There was no training.

This changed when I took part in the Moderate With Confidence course through Women Talk Real Estate this week.

Getting the opportunity to ask questions and share experiences with other moderators was invaluable

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As was listening to the thoughts and observations of those about to moderate for the first time.

The course also helped to frame and formalise the process of moderating.

When you first start, you quickly learn that it is more than asking pertinent questions in front of an audience; you need to bring a structure, order and flow to proceedings.

You have to manage the discussion and keep it on topic, make sure one person doesn’t dominate or get left out.

Panellists might be nervous, there are sponsor sensitivities to consider and questions from the floor to navigate.

Tricky timekeeping

You are also the timekeeper – something much trickier when the room doesn’t have a clock, and you don’t wear a watch.

That particular incident was a lesson learned the hard way early on.

You never stop learning, particularly because you will inevitably encounter something new or unexpected.

There are plenty of courses about presentation skills but this is the first I’ve seen specifically for moderating.

Whether you are experienced or just starting out, I can thoroughly recommend Moderate with Confidence. The next session is in October – check out the Women Talk Real Estate website for details.

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