Educator Tips - How to be a Good Moderator
Tags: how to, moderator, moderated session, presentation, panel discussion, conference, CME
Stuart A Grant, MB ChB, MMCI
Professor of Anesthesiology
Duke University Medical Center
Before the event
- Early planning. Liaise with the meeting director and understand what their goals are for the session.
- If you do not know the other speakers, introduce yourself and ensure they know each other. A quick group email could do, but sometimes a short phone or video conference is helpful.
- Request a short bio from each speaker to help with introductions.
- A small amount of content overlap is ok, but ensure that majority of content from each speaker is unique from each other.
- How long will each talk be? Do you field questions immediately after the speaker finishes or plan for a panel discussion at the end?
- If there is to be a panel discussion, the role of a moderator becomes much more than just introducing the speaker. Moderating questions from the floor is important.
- Do any faculty have conflicts of interest? If they do, a plan to deal with this needs to arranged before the meeting. Discuss with the CME director of the meeting what to do if you are not sure. You might be asked to review the presentation before the meeting.
Upon arrival at the meeting
- Find the location of your session.
- Ensure you understand the audio-visual setup. Will you have A/V support in the room?
- Have there been mistakes in other sessions? How do you avoid repeating them in your session?
- Endeavor to meet the speakers in your session in person before the actual session if you have not done so before. Ask them to arrive 5-10 minutes early (if possible), and confirm correct slides with A/V tech.
- Find out from the meeting director if there are any general meeting housekeeping issues or reminders to give at the start of your session.
On the day of the session
- Arrive early.
- Meet the A/V technician (if you have one) and confirm they have all the speakers’ slides.
- Does the room have what it is supposed to have for the session? For example, if there is a panel discussion at the end, is there somewhere on stage for a panel to sit? Is there a monitor for the speaker and panel members?
- Introduce the session for the audience. Often at a big meeting with parallel sessions, there can be audience confusion. Better they are all in the correct place prior to the speakers starting talking.
- Keep introductions brief but have something to say about each topic should there be any A/V hiccups delaying the start of a talk.
- Questions at the end: Have a few ready to ask the panel while folks from the floor line up.
- Remember: Each sentence from the floor should include a question.
- Do not let one person hog the microphone unless the discussion is riveting. If there is a takeover of the floor mic, one technique is to ask for the discussion to occur at the end of the session beside the podium.
- Remember to thank the speakers at the conclusion.