Discussion Panels always benefit from good moderation. If you would like to participate as a non-panellist moderator or moderate a panel you are participating on as a panellist-moderator, please let us know. (We will mark non-panellist moderators as [M] and panellist-moderators as [PM] in the lineup.)
There are a number of moderator traditions. As a multi-genre festival we don't strictly adhere to any of them. But we do have some guidelines moderators may wish to consider:
- Program items start on the hour and end 10 minutes before the hour. This is to give presenters and audiences time to move to their next item. A volunteer will signal a 5 minute warning and a times-up at the end of each session. Please do not run overtime as that may cause the next item to start late.
- If your Discussion Panel does not have a moderator, please appoint one of your number to be your panellist-moderator.
- The moderator should start things off by:
- Welcoming the audience.
- Reading the title & description of the panel. (This lets the audience know they are in the right room and gets everyone into the topic space.)
- Introduce yourself and then the panellists. (It is also OK to ask other panellists to introduce themselves.)
- Initiate the conversation by asking the first question, answered by all panellists. If you are a panellist-moderator, answer last.
- During the discussion:
- Ask additional questions if the conversation flags.
- When taking questions from the audience, determine which audience member gets to speak. If the audience member is not asking a question, try to limit their time as politely as possible.
- Ensure that each panellist has adequate time to speak. Sometimes a question is directed to a specific speaker, but it is more usual for all panellists to weigh in on points raised, even if just to say they agree with what was already said.
- You may have a list of questions you wish to ask or points you wish to make. Try to find opportunities in the evolving discussion to introduce them.
- Try to keep the discussion on topic. If the audience came to learn about the early mythology of ghosts they may be disappointed if the panel discusses Dracula for half the hour. If a tangent develops that engages the audience, feel free to explore it for a while before returning to the topic.
- Ending the discussion:
- At 15 minutes before the hour (whether you receive the 5 minute warning or not), let everyone know that you are almost out of time and encourage each panellist to give some concluding remarks.
- At 10 minutes to the hour, thank the panelists for their comments and the audience for attending.
- If for any reason the session has gone overtime, remind everyone that another session is about to start and to move any ongoing discussion to the hallway.
- If you have microphones at your table, please use them. The #1 feedback we receive is that presenters in large rooms can't be heard by audience in the back when they don't speak into a microphone. Sometimes presenters think they are using the microphone, but hold it too far from their mouth or at a bad angle, so check with the audience that they can hear the panellists. Also, if you are in a large room, please repeat back questions raised by the audience into a microphone.