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Moderator Information

Tips for Moderating a Panel Discussion

Day of the Conference

Please arrive early.
  • Sessions are 75 minutes. Time should be equally allotted between the presenters with time to spare at the end once everyone has presented, for audience Q & A.
  • Please start and end the session on time.
  • Open the discussion by introducing yourself and thanking the panelists for coming. Introduce each panelist by name, job title, and organization. (See program book, and check with them to ensure correct pronunciation if in doubt.)
  • Explain your role as moderator and time-keeper, be firm and tell each presenter that they have a specific amount of time for presentation and stick to your guns. Describe how the discussion will be organized, the general time frame, and the need to answer questions taken from the audience at the end. This will ensure that everyone gets a chance to present his or her research.
Suggested Example

3 presenters,= 15 minutes each with 25 minutes for Q&A + 10 minutes final comments
4 presenters, = 10 minutes each with 40 minutes for Q&A + 10 minutes final comments

  • As moderator, keep your eye on three things:
  1. Is anyone on the panel dominating the discussion? If so, call for or direct some questions to other panelists. Remind the panelists of the time constraints.
  2. Has someone on the panel not spoken much? If so, direct a question to him or her.
  3. If it seems that the discussion has taken a turn down a long and unproductive track, break in politely and redirect the conversation.
  • Allow time for "Final Comments". Allow each panelist a minute or two to respond to a final "big picture" question.
  • Thank You. Make sure you thank each panelist by name and ask the audience to join you in expressing appreciation with their applause. Let everyone know how much you enjoyed moderating the discussion and appreciated his or her active participation.  Ask everyone to wait a moment for the presenters to pack up and step in front of the presentation table before asking individual questions.
How to End a Session On Time
Ending on time respects the next group of presenters' needs to start on time and promotes collegiality at the conference.  In an especially robust conversation, the task of ending a session on time may require extra assertiveness on the part of the moderator.

Aprroximately 5 minutes before the end of your session, announce you will take 2 more questions OR begin final remarks from the panelists, whichever is more appropriate for your session.

When the time of your session has ended, state that the time has ended, thank the panelists, and ask attendees to wait a moment to hold individual questions for panelists until they have gathered their belongings and stepped in front of the presenting table.  This allows the area to be cleared for the next panelists.  This is especially important in A/V equipped rooms.

If individual conversations with panelists begin and presenters have not finished packing the belongings, ask attendees to please hold for another moment.