Event moderators wear many hats. They must be timekeepers, managers and executors. They must also possess other relevant skills, such as people skills, communication and public speaking. In this article, we’re going to be looking at how to successfully moderate at an event, as well as top tips for event moderation. This article explains how to bring out those skills and responsibilities and become a good moderator at an academic conference, discusses the challenges some moderators may face, and gives you additional tips if you are a virtual conference moderator. 

Before you begin reading, you can watch our event moderation showreel. This showreel gives examples of work we have done providing presenters, event hosts and moderators to our clients. This sort of work is mostly for virtual or live events, congresses, and hybrid events, but also for presenter-driven videos and panel discussions, as well as corporate interviews. Now let’s get into the article!

In this article, we provide:

1. Why your brand might host an event 
2. What is an event moderator: role & responsibilities 
3. Tips for event moderation
4. Example moderation videos  

Why your brand might host an event 

There are a variety of reasons as to why your brand might host an event. What we’ve done here is point out the key benefits of including events, whether they are in-person or virtual, to your marketing strategies. But essentially, Events are an excellent way to get customers and prospects to discover your brand and reinforce or create your brand’s message. Whether the event is educational, like a panel, or just social, you are giving people the opportunity to interact with the brand. If you’re going to host an event, take a look at this video by LumaForge, where they give you six useful tips for live event hosting. 

Events are beneficial for brands in the following ways:

  • Brand awareness – people will talk about your brand in spaces like events. Also, by producing social media buzz about the event in the days leading up to it, you can bring your business in front of many people.
  • Boost your content marketing strategy – with videos and photos of the event, you will have a lot of content to post on your social media platforms and your website. You can also re-publish this content in months to come. Also guests might choose to share pictures of the event on their own platforms. 
  • Know your clients better – with events, you can build relationships with your audience and target market. Use the chance to ask for feedback and engage them on what they want to see in the market.
  • Build trust – by hosting events, you’ll show to audiences and potential consumers that have the means to throw events! It also means they can connect with your brand and mission. Face-to-face connections help with the building of trust. 

What is an event moderator: role & responsibilities 

If you’re looking to have a moderator be from within your company, then you might need to think about the role and responsibilities that come with being a moderator. This will help guide your choice of who best suits the role. 

Essentially, an event moderator is both the referee and facilitator. Their important role is to help the participants have the opportunity to make their contributions and guide the plenary to reach their own conclusions. 

The responsibilities of an event moderator: 

  • Asking useful and purposeful questions specific to the subject matter.
  • Introducing the speakers on the panel.
  • A moderator makes sure the event moves smoothly. If someone goes on a tangent during a group discussion, it’s your job to politely interrupt and move on to the next speaker. 
  • Entertainment: the participants are your guests, and you want to make sure they have fun. You also want to keep the audience engaged as well. 

The skills you need to be a successful moderator: 

  • Attentive and self-confident
  • Sociable and have the ability to make the audience feel comfortable 
  • Know the topic of the debate in detail and be firm in your interventions during the discussion
  • Have the ability to stay neutral but ask engaging questions.
  • Be decisive in order to intervene when “filling” silences and waiting times

Tips for event moderation

Now let’s get into the core part of this article. We’re curated a list of tips that will help ensure you know all there is to know about event moderation. In the two following videos we have found, you find useful tips for online moderating and in-person, panel moderating, because both will be very different experiences. 

1. Have a copy of the agenda. 

This will help you plan your time, such as how far in advance you will arrive and give you an idea of what to expect for the day. It may be as simple as introducing a few speakers and facilitating questions from the audience, or you may be hosting a panel discussion. Memorizing the schedule will also help you keep an eye on the clock to make sure sessions don’t overrun.

2. Research the topic of the event. 

It is worth spending some time reading up on the subject for the event. This will give you an idea of current challenges and developments in the industry. Spending a little time with Google’s predictive search will also bring up frequently asked questions, so you can get an idea of potential audience inquiries

3. Make sure that you don’t speak too much.

Try to limit how much you speak. If you have some knowledge to add, do it in the form of a question, not a monologue. Remember that it is your job to help speakers shine: when introducing them, describe their background and emphasize their knowledge. Try to follow brief introductions to topics, repeating audience questions for clarity as needed, and summarizing key points at the end.

4. Ask good questions. 

It’s your job to make sure participants get the most out of the event. If a speaker is rather taciturn, follow-up questions will be necessary to get the full picture. Questions can also be used effectively as moderator transitions to help keep the conversation on track. Some examples of moderator questions are:

  • Do you have an example of this?
  • How does this relate to the discussion?
  • Can you explain this further?
  • If your job is to write the questions for the panel or speakers, remember to add value. Questions that invite open-ended answers are best (rather than just “yes” or “no”). 

Example moderation videos 

1. Radio host Angie Martinez moderates a candid, cross-generational discussion with Michelle Obama and an influential panel of powerful women of color. 

You can watch the full discussion here. In a previous blog post, we mentioned a discussion between Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama as she promoted her book, Becoming. Here’s another perfect example with a different moderator, where the conversation feels comfortable because of the set and how the moderator, Angie Martinez, lets her guests fully discuss their points and opinions, without interruptions. 

2. Sasha Qadri’s showreel here, demonstrates how event moderation can look different depending on the event and the subject matter. 

In this video, you can see Qadri moderating for panels and roundtable discussions at business-focused events with tech or digital subject matter. As you watch her showreel, you can see that she is able to politely control the panel, as well as introduce the events well. That’s what you want from a moderator. 

3. SmartCuts Example – Geneva Health Forum. 

Finally, I’ve chosen an example by SmartCuts Creative. Why? Mainly because it highlights how virtual events and moderation can still happen effectively. Having our event moderator in a studio, and the other speakers on the panel via zoom, gives the event a more professional feel. 


And there you have it! Event moderation is a tough skill to master. Hopefully, you’ve understood that, if you are unable to hire a professional event moderator, know that you can still have people in-house who will have the communicative skills to deliver. If you want help with live events or event moderation, feel free to contact us now. SmartCuts Creative can give you the guidance you need for everything event moderation. In addition, we offer high-quality media training sessions to enhance your public speaking skills.  

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