1. Initiate the pre-conference discussion
If you are a moderator, do get in touch with the panelists before the conference. Make sure to discuss the main points of the panel and how to divide time between the participants.
2. Get a good start at the session
Greet the audience and tell them what the goals of the debate is and why we have decided to organize it. This sets the stage for both audience and panelists. If relevant, make a poll in the audience about the central question and ask the panelists to comment on the results.
3. Don’t be afraid to stop and move on
There will always be more to say about any subject. Don’t be afraid to break off a discussion, even if more panelists want to contribute, and move on. The panel has together decided how to divide time, you are making sure that the agreement is kept.
4. You are facilitating a conversation, not interviewing
Have a plan, but not a strict Q&A schedule. Leave space for spontaneity and direct conversation between the panelists.
5. You are neutral
Sorry, but the moderator cannot also be a panelist, especially not if there is disagreement on the panel. You have to be the neutral host who gives equal time to all points of view.
6. Stop in time
Again: There will always be more to say or more questions. Please stop in time and clear the room. That is polite to the audience and the next speaker. People need the break – and so do you.