Why hire an event moderator – don’t fall for the easy pick!
Updated: Feb 22
Event moderation takes more than just the gift of the gab
Picture this: you are in charge of hosting a discussion panel where your company expects high-profile figures to attend. You come up with the topic, and now you have the pressure to ensure that the discussion not only winds up engaging, but also worthwhile for your guests. It’s time for a moderator to step in.
What is an event moderator?
What exactly is a moderator? In a nutshell, it’s someone who mediates the conversation, meaning keeping a balance, making sure everyone gets their say, their fair share of time in the lime-light. Above all, perhaps, a good moderator ensures that the conversation not only stays topical, but also relevant and dynamic.
All this takes good communications skills, the ability to listen, anticipate, understand and come up with ideas if ever things should bog down. A good moderator must also be well informed on the topic of conversation, so that input is intelligent, to the point and useful. This is why a professional moderator is often the right choice.
Picking a colleague as the main moderator may seem easier and even more effective. In fact, most companies prefer to have “one of their own” to be the main face of a panel discussion. But let’s face it. Unless you want a bunch of yawns in the event, picking the CFO as the main host will not be the most interactive option.
The reality is, not everyone has the skills to lead a non-biased 1-hour discussion that will keep your audience on the edge of their seats. And if the whole panel is a virtual or hybrid one…better not even consider a coworker. Not even a senior executive. Being engaging on-camera (especially if it’s in a home setup) is another ability that is acquired after years of training.
The benefits of hiring a professional event moderator
Hiring someone who has the know-how to produce, present and conduct a discussion will offer your guests a much more interactive, interesting and professional discussion than perhaps the one any of your colleagues would.
Below are some of the key reasons why you should go ahead with a professional moderator. If you are short on time, you can always watch this short video that summarizes our main points.
Key reasons to pick a professional for your events, virtual or live
1. They are planners and researchers
They do the bulk work for you. This is probably one of the main reasons why you should hire a professional moderator. If you are hosting an event, odds are that you are not necessarily the absolute expert on the subject, and you will have to spend some time doing objective research.
That research can take a couple of full days. And, well, the senior executive that you picked as a moderator, will not likely have that spare time. Moderators take care of that for you. They also spend some time meeting with the speakers to identify where their knowledge strength is. That way they ensure each panelist will be ready to answer any question thrown at them.
No matter the topic, moderators are quite efficient in identifying what the audience will be interested in, and develop a script of thought-provoking and up-to-date talking points.
2. They are ice breakers and stimulants
They know how to break the ice. A good moderator will make sure both the audience and the speakers feel at ease right from the start. They will also make sure your audience stays awake and alert by injecting the right dose of energy, humor and even some drama.
3. They are emotion controllers
They can make you feel a gripping roller coaster of emotions to set the pace and mood of the panel. They not only instigate and lighten up the atmosphere, but they can also smooth out the conversation if it turns a bit uncomfortable or tense due to disagreements between panelists.
4. They organize chaos
They make sure that conversations stay focused and make sure that the panelists stick to the topic of the question. Panelists will tend to avoid answering comfortable questions by going off topic. Odds are that if you had picked one of your coworkers to moderate the event, he or she would feel that it is impolite to pressure the panelist to answer the question.
And, in fact, probably each member of the audience would deem it rude to pressure the panelist if they were in the moderator’s seat. But truth is, everyone wants to get the answer somehow, and for that, they want someone else to pressure the speaker for them. That’s the role of moderators. They don’t have to worry whether they are being too persistent with the panelists, because their job is to serve the audience. This brings us to the next point.
5. They are impartial
Professional moderators don’t have to worry about being liked, because they are not likely the ones hosting or creating the event. They were just hired for one role: to lead an objective conversation that is worthwhile for your guests. So, they concentrate on asking the tough, relevant questions that the audience is keen to learn about.
Moderators will know how to intervene when necessary. They make sure all panelists have their fair share of speaking time, without giving any preference to panelists or to any topic that can benefit a particular panelist.
6. They are precise timekeepers
A great moderator is more precise than a Swiss watch. If you plan for your panel discussion to last 1 hour, rest assured that the discussion won’t last longer than that. Moderators know how to control the conversation in a way that it ends when it needs to end. This is not to say that they may not extend it a bit, if they notice that the audience is overly engaged. If the moderator perceives enough interest from the attendees, he or she may open up the room to a few more questions from the audience.
7. They leave the audience wanting more.
Even though the job of a moderator is to create a well-rounded conversation, they also leave the audience with the sense of wanting more. And this is a good thing.
Think about the best experiences you had in your life. Those moments were so good that you leave thinking, “uh, I wish we could’ve stayed a bit longer or had the opportunity to enjoy more of this…” That’s the feeling that a moderator plants in the audience, and that is the best desire to obtain from them. This means they will be more than willing to return for the next event.
8. The best moderators tend to be television journalists.
If the moderator is a television journalist, then you’ve knocked it out of the park. Think about it, the job of a television journalist or presenter is to moderate a tightly timed television program every…single…day. Television journalists and presenters are not only experts in the points mentioned above, but they also have the know-how to engage people through a screen. This is especially important for your virtual events.
Conclusion - why a hiring professional moderator is worth the money
As you can now imagine, you may have to spend a lot of time trying to become the best moderator. At SmartCuts Creative, we know how valuable that time is. That’s why we have our own hosts and moderators, who also happen to be experienced television journalists, to efficiently organize and lead the panel for you. Just give us your topic of preference, and they will take care of the rest.
About SmartCuts Creative
SmartCuts Creative provides a cutting-edge creative communication service: original concepts; clear, creative and concise content delivered competently. In other words, we help you get your message across through the following tools and services:
• Design & Branding – digital concept development & strategy, web & interactive design, visual identity, graphic design.
• Digital & Social Media Marketing – campaign strategy, design & management, copy & content writing, blogs & SEO.
• Virtual-hybrid Events & Tours / Video-conferencing – webinars, full event development & management, moderation & hosting, virtual visits.
• Media Training - public speaking & coaching, look & sound great on camera.
• Green-screen Production Studio – large video & photo production studio, 100% soundproof, professionally equipped 360o green-screen.
SmartCuts has 10+ years of experience, 100+ satisfied customers and 1,000+ successful productions.
At your service. Say it Smart!