Tag Archives: moderating

Immigration and the Peter Jennings Project

Can a dialogue on one of the most controversial issues in American policy — illegal immigration — be passionate, and smart, and civil?  The brilliant Jeff Greenfield of CBS News moderated a dialogue at the National Constitution Center that proved it can be done.  You can watch it in full here.

I produced this discussion for the Peter Jennings Project, an organization dedicated to helping current and future journalists understand constitutional issues more deeply.  It was especially meaningful to me because I produced a dialogue moderated by Peter Jennings in 1999.   Continue reading

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 6: Prepare, But Don’t Overprepare, Panelists and Part 7: Directing Traffic

With the new year I bring you the long-overdue second half of the Ten Commandments of Moderating.  Next up: How to prepare your panelists; and how to direct traffic. Continue reading

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 5: Paint Pictures

The first two commandments of moderating are here, the third here, and the fourth here.   I started out without much concern on the order of these pieces of advice, but the list seems to be developing a structure: The first two commandments are the most basic.  They’ve been followed by three on formulating questions. After that, we’ll have a couple on preparation and directing traffic, followed by the most important commandment of all.  Now for the last piece of advice on questions: Continue reading

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 4: Conversations

The first two commandments of moderating are here, and the third here.  Next up:

4. Create Conversations — As I have ranted about before, far too often the label “panel discussion” is a misnomer: The event instead is a set of presentations followed by a series of questions from the moderator to each panelist.   The good news is, this creates a great opportunity for you:  If you can actually get panelists talking to each other — to actually have a discussion at your “panel discussion” — both panelists and audience will be very pleasantly surprised.  You’ll see smiles and greater engagement all around.  Here are several ways to make it happen: Continue reading

The Commandments of Moderating, Part 3: Hard Questions

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

Five Great Ways to Create a Terrible Panel Discussion

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

Panelists Just Say No

It’s not a suggestion, it’s an observation.  And it can help you ask questions that keep the conversation flowing. Continue reading