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February 9-11, 2024 — Westin Boston Seaport District

Tips for our Moderators

Tips for Our Moderators (and other interested parties)

Please note that items scheduled in 90-minute slots are 60-minutes long and items in 30-minute slots are 25-minutes. Please be sure to end on time to help avoid traffic jams going in and out of rooms. For virtual sessions, Zoom room will close automatically at the end of the session! If you have any problems during your session, please contact program ops immediately.

Moderators have the unique position of focusing and making panels more fun and interesting.  While you should try to keep the topic on track, don’t let any of these guidelines cause you to stop a discussion that is interesting to the panelists and audience. Keep the “big picture” in mind.

As Moderator, we ask that you:

  • Be prepared. In the next few weeks, please reach out to your panelists via email to say hello and ask them to share any specific topics or questions that they would like to cover. It’s helpful if you include a topic or two in your introductory email.
  • Please join your item before the scheduled start time.
    • In a virtual setting, please join the panel 15-20 minutes early to allow the zoom tech to ensure everything is working properly for you, and this will give you panelists time to chat before you go live
  • Develop some questions or topics that can be used to keep the panel going if conversation lags. Make a crib sheet. And…start and end on time!
  • Share some housekeeping information at the beginning of the panel:
    • Briefly outline the topic of the panel for the audience.
    • Remind the audience if the item is being recorded or not (as found in item description) – Note: only virtual and hybrid items are being recorded.
    • Tell the audience how and when you will be taking questions1
    • Briefly introduce the panel and ask panelists to introduce themselves. (Do not allow others to join the panel unless the Program staff okays this addition.)
  • Make sure that all panelists have an equal chance to participate.  As moderator you may need to adjust or encourage panelist participation depending on panelists’ contributions.  Be fair, but firm.
    • In a virtual setting, it is harder to tell when panelists want to speak so you may need to pay closer attention.
  • Prevent the discussion from drifting away from the topic, too much. Don’t let panelists (including yourself!) pursue individual agendas unless they are directly on topic.
  • Allow time for questions, but don’t let individual questioners monopolize the panel or take it away from the topic.
    • In a virtual setting, when taking questions by text, please read the question aloud.
  • Keep an eye on the time (check a watch or clock.) Consider asking a summing-up question near the end of your allotted time. Then, bring the panel gracefully to a close when your time is up. The Zoom room will close automatically at the end of the hour.
  • At the end of the item, please close with a few notes:
    • Thank your fellow panelists.
    • Thank the audience.
    • Mention that the conversation can continue in Discord.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Program.

Go with the flow. Relax. Enjoy.

Being a moderator is a JOB—but it can be a rewarding one.  Thank you for your willingness to take it on.


1 Virtual sessions will use webinars with the Q&A function for questions. The audience will be able to upvote questions. In meetings, you can choose between taking questions by chat or allowing the audience to unmute and ask verbally.