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February 17-19, 2023 — Westin Boston Seaport District

Tips for our Moderators

Tips for Our Moderators (and other interested parties)

Please note that items scheduled in 1-hour slots are 55-minutes long. At the hour, the Zoom room will close automatically!

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. Please join your item 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled start time. Briefly talk to your fellow panelists and your tech host before the program item. 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)
    • Tell the audience how and when you will be taking questions1
    • In large meetings, remind everyone to remain muted when not speaking
    • Briefly introduce the panelists, or ask them 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. It is harder to tell when panelists want to speak in a virtual setting 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.
  • 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 the item chat.
    • If you want to rewatch the panel, a link to the video will be posted on the item page in a few hours.

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 In webinars, we will be using Q&A 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.