As the moderator, your job is to create
an engaging and educational experience for the audience.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get distracted from this essential task. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Send the questions you’ll be asking to the panelists ahead of time. If you’ll be opening the floor to questions from the audience at some point, explain what the parameters of that question time will be.
Be very clear about the length of the answers you are expecting, and whether each panelist will need to answer each question.
Take charge of the questioning. Decide who will answer each question, and be specific. “Tony and Anne, I’d like to hear from each of you on the following question.” This sets the expectations very clearly, and lets the panelists know that everyone will get their voice in the room. It also saves the audience from the very common habit of three people on a panel answering the same question, then the last person saying, “Well, I don’t have much to add, but I will say…” and then they go on and say the same thing in a slightly different way.
Get a diversity of responses. The only reason to have many people is to get a variety of perspectives and perhaps even some disagreement.
Don’t be afraid to be in charge. That’s what you’re there for!