Last month I blogged about how vitally important it is for preparing to be a panelist…did you read that post? I suggested 10 questions to ask yourself.

Now let’s flip the coin and consider 10 questions to ask yourself if you’re privileged enough to be moderating a panel. Think about your responses to:

1. How well do you understand the needs of your audience?
2. If you’re charged with inviting panelists, what criteria will you use for your selection?
3. Whether or not you are selecting panelists, have you researched them in advance and prepared effective notes that you can easily reference?
4. Have you verified the credentials of your panelists as well as the correct pronunciation of their names in order to properly introduce them (avoid mistakes here)?
5. Have you identified your list of key questions to pose to the panelists that clearly align with the needs of your audience?
6. Have you arranged for the panelists to get to know each other, either via conference call or in-person, prior to the actual panel event?
7. Have you set up a reminder schedule to alert your panelists with the date and time of the panel to avoid conflicts or lapses in memory?
8. What is your back-up plan if a panelist has an unforeseen emergency prohibiting him or her from participating in the panel?
9. Have you accounted for room logistics for your event (i.e. seating, temperature, microphone availability)?
10. Are you willing to interrupt and redirect a panelist who is either longwinded or goes off topic?

11. Are you skilled at restating a question from the audience so everyone hears it as well as ensuring it’s truly a question vs. a diatribe?
12. Will you remember to mail a thank you card to each of your panelists as well as the organizer of the event to ensure appropriate recognition?

Being an effective moderator is a form of public speaking. You’re viewed as a leader and your most important role is to take care of your audience…in moderation.