Following yesterday’s post about how to get onto to the stage in good order – without any pesky mobile phones interrupting proceedings – today’s excerpt from Tony Hallett’s e-book, Everything In Moderation, considers the dos and don’ts of introducing your panel.
Chapter 4 (continued) – Intros, questions and flow
One trend in recent years has been to say something like: “I’m now going to give each of our panel a couple of minutes to introduce themselves” and maybe with the ugly kicker of “…and make an opening statement.”
Big tip: Avoid this at all costs. Seriously, this is rubbish.
First off, I always think it makes a moderator look bad. How bad? How about lazy and unprepared. If I had literally been teleported into an unknown panel (I know this is a strange parallel world where moderators are beamed around but stick with me) I might, just might employ this tactic. Even then I’d be tempted to engage in, you know, actual conversation.
There are other downsides too. Nobody sticks to the time you give them and – especially what with it being early on and all – you are unlikely to cut in and stop them.
Second, it becomes a procession of one-upmanship. Or selling. Or both. All without tone having been set by you, so it’s wildly inconsistent to boot.
And third, however much you tell them in advance not to try to over say everything at once they will fold all their mentally prepared points into one single soliloquy. Only it won’t sound like Shakespeare.
Remember, one of the reasons anyone wants a moderator at all is because you will keep things consistent, fair, to time – dare I say even entertaining?
So, given all the prep you’ll have done and the rapport you’ve built with your guests to that point, you must do the intros yourself. You can be both more honest and more complimentary than any guest, I promise you.
You should aim for 15 seconds or so on each of the speakers beside you. That sounds very short but it should be enough, unless you want to talk some more about particularly relevant career history. But think half a minute max. It means getting in to the meat of the main debate faster, more Q&A – and there will always be opportunities to work in ‘intro info’ throughout the session.