I am often asked where the moderator should be stationed.  While there is no “right” place to be located, make your decision based on the the pro’s and con’s of each:

  • Standing at a Lectern. Although you have a place to put your notes, the lectern is a barrier between you and everyone else.
  • Stand On the Side. The moderator stands stage right and is free to move about the stage. It may be harder to get eye contact and intervene with the panelists.
  • Seated Among the Panelists. The moderator sits (rather than stands) stage right. It can be difficult to intervene.
  • Seated Between the Panelists. Perfect for a debate format, this style enables you to intervene easily in either direction. It also makes you the focal point for the audience, splits the panel in half and makes it harder for the panelists to interact with each other.
  • In the Audience. Often referred to as Oprah-style, this style makes you the center of attention. It is best when there are significant audience questions and interaction.

My preference is the last.  While standing in the audience, the panelists tend to talk to the moderator, ergo to the audience.  It’s easier to involve the audience and gives me more latitude to change up the format when needed.

If you could benefit from learning more panel moderation techniques, join us for this webinar on “Using Creative Training Techniques to Engage the Audience During a Panel Discussion.”

Related Articles:

Theater-in-the-Round: Speaking and Presenting Effectively

Audience-Engaging, Powerful Panel Discussion Format

3 Popular Panel Discussion Formats

Kristin Arnold, professional panel moderator and high stakes meeting facilitator, shares her best practices for interactive, interesting, and engaging panel presentations. For more resources like this, or to have Kristin moderate your next panel visit the Powerful Panels official website.

Photo Source: Jan Jaap