Following up on the first two commandments of moderating, here is the third:
3. Ask Hard Questions that Get Answered — You have probably seen certain investigative news shows, or dramas about courtroom lawyers, in which the crusading attorney or journalist hurls accusatory questions, and is rewarded with the object of the questioning either running from the cameras or confessing to guilt on the witness stand. Those kinds of questions are great for creating tension and making the questioner look strong. What they’re terrible for is getting answers.
I love hard questions; a panel discussion isn’t worth having without them. But I like having them answered, and that’s a lot more likely to happen if you don’t make answering the question equivalent to losing a battle of wills with the moderator. Here are some techniques for asking hard questions that get answered: Continue reading