Simon Willison’s Weblog


What are some tips for moderating a panel?

13th December 2010

My answer to What are some tips for moderating a panel? on Quora

It’s a very hard thing to do well.

Here are a few tips:

1. Your job is to keep things moving and make the panel members shine. Be sure not to hog the limelight.

2. A panel where everyone agrees on everything is a very boring panel. Take the panelists out for dinner the night before, discuss the issues and make sure you find points where people disagree—then bring those up in the panel proper. Make sure your panelists know you are doing this.

3. Have a set of questions prepared, but be ready to ad-lib should a particularly interesting line of discussion emerge.

4. It’s your job to control the audience Q&A. Be brutal! Force questioners to get to the point, and cut off anyone who says “I don’t have a question, it’s more of a comment...”. The audience will thank you for it.

Good luck!