E-book excerpt – Phone fail on stage

E-book excerpt – Phone fail on stage

March 13, 2012


March 13, 2012


E-book excerpt – Phone fail on stage


Aled Herbert
Content director

Aled oversees all editorial as our content director. He loves a good story – which is no surprise, as he started out in children’s publishing.

Over coming weeks Collective Content will be publishing parts of the new e-book by our director Tony Hallett, Everything In Moderation – How to chair, moderate and otherwise lead events.

In the first of two excerpts this week we focus on the initial moments when a panel takes to a stage…

4. Intros, questions and flow
I’ve mentioned some of the things that happen in the hour or so immediately before any panel but there are a couple of other pre-intro boxes to tick before you get into your session.

You can tell guests in advance to make sure their phones are off – or set to stun (meaning muted). But it only really matters as they take to the stage. I can’t tell you how important this is. It’s obvious, you’ve heard it a hundred times before, but remember not to let it blight your panel.

“Cab for moderator” – I had never been a victim – either at an event or on TV – of interuptus by mobile. Then it happened, big-time. I not only had one panellist who had been difficult both in build up to the 45-minute session and in early exchanges but then his mobile rang. My excuse is that in the heated build-up (it was a prickly debate about efficiencies around 999 emergency services) I had forgotten the old “Mobile off now please people” mantra. Anyway, as his phone rang, I scowled and turned slightly red but at least did the decent thing – I moved attention away from him and his inside pocket-fumbling.

But that’s not the end. Lightning does strike twice. About five minutes later MY phone rang. As I tried to turn it off (at this point throwing it far away felt like about the most sensible thing to do), there were no diversionary tactics, no one covered. Everyone – audience, panellists, certainly the panellist I’d just been glaring at, looked at me. It lasted a while. It was a lesson well learnt.

So assuming you make it onto the stage, with your complement of panellists (even if that includes late substitutes – who of course don’t faze you in the slightest because you allowed for that happening), with them in the order you prefer and with their phones silenced, what next?

Tomorrow we will reveal what comes next, including the best – and worst – ways to introduce speakers.
Everything In Moderation is available for around $4 or £2.50 (prices may vary by store).