Next week I shall be attending the SanFran Music Tech Summit.  I'll be moderating a panel on music recommendation and discovery.  Now, I've seen lots of panels and have even been on a few of them in my day.  Most panels don't seem to live up to their billing and some  turn into   real train wrecks.  As the panel moderator, my primary job will be to minimize the suckage  - to make sure that the panel is interesting, informative and hopefully entertaining.  I asked my friend, Chris how to moderate a panel (he's a writer and interviewer who has conducted a few panels that didn't suck) - he says that he likes to prepare his questions ahead of times. He says that 'good questions, put simply, are questions that ask something fairly specific but don't lead to a "yes" or "no" answer.  And challenging someone to explain things that are unclear, unproven or contradictory makes for good discussion.  "You talk about A - but can this really work?" "You used to think A, why do you now think B?"' - good advice.

Guy Kawasaki offers a set of tips on how to be a great moderator. Summarized here:

  • Don't over-prepare the panelists
  • Do prepare yourself in advance
  • Never let the panelists use PowerPoint
  • Never let the panelists do anything special
  • Make them introduce themselves in thirty seconds
  • Break eye contact with the panelists
  • Make everyone else look smart
  • Stand up for the Audience
  • Involve the Audience
  • Seize the day
Good tips

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