As the moderator, you are the audience’s chief advocate. If someone’s boring you, then chances are they are boring the audience as well. If you think they are going on too long and not making their point, you need to intervene.
The good news about your panel of experts is that they know A LOT about their issue and are used to talking extensively about it. You need to make sure they understand the ground rules and when and how you will intervene.
The best way to intervene is to prevent the problem from happening in the first place. Then, when a panelist or audience member “steps over the line,” you can point to a prevention strategy or ground rule you have put into place:
Sometimes, however, your best-made plans don’t go according to plan! When you feel the conversation starts to stray, I suggest you use a process I call “escalating interventions.” You’ll want to be firm, polite and fair because you often don’t have a whole lot of time and want to keep the conversation moving briskly. So start with the lowest level intervention appropriate to the situation. If that doesn’t modify the disruptive behavior, then kick it up a notch to the next level intervention.
Do Nothing. You always have the option to do nothing and see if the situation resolves itself. However, if you let one person run over, you penalize everyone else.
Redirect the Conversation.
Confront the Disrupter. This is the highest level intervention, and you should only have to resort to this level if you have a jerk on your panel.
In my experience, you will rarely climb to a confrontation, as long as you place prevention strategies in place and escalate your interventions appropriately during a panel discussion.
For more resources on how to make meetings, panels, and room sets better, make sure to check out this knowledge vault which is chock-full of customizable checklists, worksheets, templates, agendas, sample emails, video interviews and webinars with industry icons and professional moderators.
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Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high-stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.
I’d also like to share how mobile apps can be used to moderate the interaction between the audience members and the panel. My company EventsCase, for example, offers event apps that allow attendees to log questions for Q&A straight into the app. Moderators can then curate the questions and look for the most interesting ones. Regardless, wonderful tips you have here since it can be challenging to be a moderator.