7th Democratic Presidential Debate Moderators Stoked the Fire Resulting in a Spat
January 15, 2020
Top 5 Most Popular Powerful Panel Blogs
January 30, 2020

Panel moderators use open-ended questions to incite conversation and closed questions to summarize or exact a short answer from a panelist.  But it doesn’t always work that way.  We all know the person who can take a closed question and ramble on and on OR the teenager who can take an open-ended question and turn it into a closed question:

“Hi honey!  How was your day?” (open)

“Fine” (closed)

A skilled moderator will rephrase the question to illicit a more extensive response:

“What was the best thing about your day today?” (open)

“Nothing.” (closed)

Ahhhh, the joys of parenting!  Well, the same thing can happen on a panel.  Be thoughtful about the phrasing of your question.  Are you trying to open up the discussion or pinpoint a position?

For the 2019-2020 Democratic Debates, (which I have been commenting on),  it’s been a 65/35 split: 65% open-ended questions and 35% closed questions:

Type#%Debate 1aDebate 1bDebate 2aDebate 2bDebate 3Debate 4Debate 5Debate 6Debate 7
Open29865%403445313650282229
Closed16235%20181291626172123
Total # of  questions477605257405276454352

That seems pretty reasonable to me.  However, that’s not the interesting part.  Of those closed questions (35% of the questions on average), the candidates could respond in three ways:

  1. Answer the question right away
  2. Answer the question within the allotted timeframe
  3. Not answer the question at all

On average, the candidates didn’t answer the closed question about a third of the time!

1a1b2a2b34567
Answered Right Away11117481581217
Answered After Explanation341113432
Didn’t Answer634478564
Repeated Question/Follow Up232123132
% of Closed Questions didn’t answer30%17%33%44%44%31%29%29%17%

Ahhh. But here’s the really interesting part: If the candidate didn’t answer the closed question at all, the moderator would only follow up on those questions 40%  of the time (on average).  Some debate moderators are better at this than others!

% of Closed Questions not answered – but followed up33%100%50%25%29%38%20%50%50%

So I gotta ask: Why should you answer a direct, tough question when the moderator will follow up less than half the time?

 

 

For more information, check out my website at www.RulesAnalyst.com.  Book me now to comment (live , Zoom, or pre-recorded interviews) on the next debate by calling me at 480.399.8489 or set up a time to talk here

Related Articles:

12 Moderator Mishaps that Derail a Presidential Debate

A Feeding Frenzy: The Second Night of the First Democratic Primary Debate

First Democratic Presidential Primary: The Beto & Booker Show!

 

 

 

 

Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

Our privacy policy has been updated. By clicking, 'I agree,' you consent to the terms therein. I Agree