What’s missing from Nancy Fulda’s “Moderating Panels: How To Be Rude in the Nicest Possible Way”?
Oddly enough, it’s the word rude. Fulda offers 10 tips for keeping a handle on panels at conventions, yet she never actually gets to the point of saying “You might have to be rude for the good of the panel if none of these other methods work.”
And that turns out to be a wise choice because “rudeness” isn’t a technique, only a perception that may result from the assertive use of these tips that insure panelists share time and stay on topic. As Fulda writes —
Your first duty as a moderator is to the audience, not to the other panelists. If someone is droning on in an inappropriate or inordinately lengthy manner, it is your job to Fix It. This, I think, is what scares people most about moderating.
Here are the titles of her 10 tips, all supported with explanations for when and how they apply.
- Tip #1: Know the panelist’s name.
- Tip #2: Be persistent.
- Tip #3: Be considerate.
- Tip #4: Come with a list of leading questions and emergency topic-switches.
- Tip #5: Timing.
- Tip #6: Wait for the breath.
- Tip #7: Don’t be afraid to keep talking.
- Tip #8: Voice modulation.
- Tip #9: Eye contact.
- Tip #10: Try to acknowledge the speaker’s comments whenever possible.
This is recommended reading for anyone involved with convention programming.