The Difference Between Moderating and Emceeing an Event

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Podium lectern with two microphones and United States flag in background

Last night, Eva Longoria Bastón launched a historic Democratic National Convention – all done “virtually.”  Billed as the event moderator, she began the night with opening comments, introduced the various speakers (politicians and voters), transitioned between segments, and offered personal commentary.

Pardon me for mincing words, but there was no “moderation” being done.  Longoria was actually “emceeing” the event (Emcee is short for Master of Ceremonies).

So what’s the difference between moderating and emceeing an event?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a moderator is one who “tries to help other people come to an agreement” or “makes certain that a formal discussion happens without problems and follows the rules.”  (see my further discussion of the role of the moderator)

An emcee introduces the presenters, sessions, and important activities at an event. They share important information and keep everyone on time. They can also facilitate discussion among the speakers, panelists, and audience to achieve the desired business outcomes (this last sentence bleeds into the role of a “moderator,” ergo the confusion between the two terms).

I don’t think the DNC convention had any discussions that created any agreements.  So don’t call her the “moderator.”  She was clearly “emceeing” the event.

For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. To have Kristin moderate your next panel, visit the Powerful Panels official website.

Related Articles:

How to Moderate a Virtual Panel Discussion

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions

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Kristin Arnold
Kristin Arnold
Award-winning author Kristin Arnold is an expert panel moderator and professional meeting facilitator.
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