Live in Florida? Then you need to watch Florida: Choosing the Future, premiering on Florida PBS stations tonight. (See the whole broadcast schedule here.) I wrote and produced this show for three awesome organizations: the Fred Friendly Seminars, the Florida Humanities Council, and the Askew Institute. The assignment was daunting: Produce an intelligent and engaging discussion on the choices the state faces for its economic future. But thanks to a great moderator and amazing participants, we did it — creating a program where people across the political spectrum talk honestly about what has to happen to bring great jobs and economic prosperity to your state, your county, your neighborhood. And they have fun doing it. Really. Continue reading →
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 →
Not long ago I posted my top five Don’ts when creating a panel discussion. It was intended for anyone putting together a panel event. Now let’s focus in on moderating. Here, the first two of the Ten Commandments of Moderating. These are the most basic of basics (but even so, you’ve probably suffered through more than one panel that broke these rules): Continue reading →
Yesterday I had the privilege of hearing Coach Dick Vermeil (nominated just two days ago to the Pro Football Hall of Fame) speak on leadership at a wonderful NHS Foundation event in Philadelphia. I want to share one of his great observations. It could be be the key to meaningful employee development at your organization: Continue reading →
Like the sound of yawns? Of people fidgeting in seats and checking email during your event? Of audience members complaining about your panel afterward? Then follow these steps — any one of them can do the trick: Continue reading →
It’s not a suggestion, it’s an observation. And it can help you ask questions that keep the conversation flowing. Continue reading →
I can’t produce every discussion idea I come up with. So let me share them here, and if you like them, please use them yourself (though attribution is always nice). Here’s the first: Continue reading →
Granted, they probably won’t realize it, but one of the worst things you can do for your panelists is introduce them. Continue reading →
Audience questions are a resource that can have a huge, positive impact on an event. But the Q & A session at the end of the discussion is one of the weakest ways to use them. There’s a much better alternative.
Continue reading →
Or at least, my favorite question that’s not related to a specific scenario:
“How would that work, exactly?”
Far, far, far too often, folks — especially those in politics or punditry — get away with sweeping, and sometimes compelling, statements about how things should/would work under the principles they espouse (or about the terrible way things work under their opponent’s leadership). The only problem is, they’re not actually explaining the how it would work part. And that’s the question that should always be asked: “Walk me through it. Take us step by step and show us how it happens.”
The best case: the speaker knows what he/she is talking about, and by turning that knowledge into a concrete picture of how something plays out, conveys it to the audience far more vividly.
Worst case: Another liar is called out on his/her BS.
Examples: Continue reading →