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Last night, Eva Longoria Bastón launched a historic Democratic National Convention – all done “virtually.”  Billed as the event moderator, she began the night with opening comments, introduced the various speakers (politicians and voters), transitioned between segments, and offered personal commentary.

Pardon me for mincing words, but there was no “moderation” being done.  Longoria was actually “emceeing” the event (Emcee is short for Master of Ceremonies).

So what’s the difference between moderating and emceeing an event?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a moderator is one who “tries to help other people come to an agreement” or “makes certain that a formal discussion happens without problems and follows the rules.”  (see my further discussion of the role of the moderator)

An emcee introduces the presenters, sessions, and important activities at an event. They share important information and keep everyone on time. They can also facilitate discussion among the speakers, panelists, and audience to achieve the desired business outcomes (this last sentence bleeds into the role of a “moderator,” ergo the confusion between the two terms).

I don’t think the DNC convention had any discussions that created any agreements.  So don’t call her the “moderator.”  She was clearly “emceeing” the event.

Related Articles:

How to Moderate a Virtual Panel Discussion

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions

For more information about how to moderate a lively & informative leadership panel discussion, check out our free 7-part video series on how to moderate a panel and other resources to help you organize, moderate, or be a panel member.


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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.
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