Hosting and Moderation

Hosting and Moderation

Hosting any conference or moderating a panel discussion is a multi-task. On the one hand, I am the public face for the audience. On the other, I am the focus point and must be able to deal with any eventuality.

I like to cover all these areas so that the event organiser can be comfortable that whatever the eventuality, they can trust me to do something to make things run smoothly. If the technology fails, it’s a matter of stepping in to give the audience flow. If speakers aren’t running to time, it’s a case of being able to get things back on track.  

In the main, apart from some smaller conferences, my experience has been gained through hosting various TEDx conferences. The ones I have been lucky enough to host are all day-long affairs in three or four sessions, around 20 different speakers from all over the world, volunteer teams of 30-40, live audiences of 400-1,100 and online audiences ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. All are filmed, some simultaneously translated, most simulcast and put together and taken down in short timeframes. It’s not easy shipping in all the tech, some 40-odd microphone channels, broadcast cameras and systems as well as make up and all the paraphernalia. It’s almost inevitable that with this number of people and activities that something, sometime, somewhere will go wrong. My job is to make it invisible to the live and online audience, and to make the experience manageable and perhaps even pleasurable for the speakers and organisers. 

Apart from the normal hosting role (making introductions and announcements, keeping the speakers to time), I like to briefly interview each speaker on stage after they have finished to act as ‘proxy audience’ by asking the questions which I think the audience would have wanted to ask. I can also handle live Q&A sessions with ease. I try to keep it both serious and humorous – one can get further that way – and generally make the whole day enjoyable and fruitful for all.

I am also adept at moderating panel discussions and bring all my experience to bear in order to bring out the best in each participant.  What I find the most useful element is to keep the overall flow of the conference, to allow speakers to ‘have their say’ but not be overlong and to ensure that there is a relatively snappy pace.  It’s easier said than done, and what I find the most important is that panelists trust me to moderate fairly and without bias.  Sometimes panelists forget that that it’s the audience which matters!

Experience:

Hosted TEDx Vilnius 2013
Hosted TEDx Vilnius 2015
Hosted TEDx Klagenfurt 2015
Hosted TEDx Vilnius 2016
Hosted TEDx Klagenfurt 2016
Hosted TEDx Bucharest 2016

Sometimes things go wrong: you need the host to somehow work things out and make it all OK.