One of the most critical decisions you can make to ensure a successful live event is the selection of moderator or host. The person who leads your event is the most immediate and obvious face of the event – and, by extension, your brand. And while it’s unlikely you’d choose someone who might ruin your event, the moderator can (and often does) make the difference between an OK outcome and, well, a “super” one. Whenever possible, you should call on a superhero to save the day. So, aside from the obvious skills any moderator should possess – knowledge of subject, public speaking skills, etc. – there are five “superpowers” you should demand when deciding on your moderator.
Mindreading: Good moderators understand the subject matter and can guide event conversation to align with specific topics. But the superheroes are able to read subtle signals and cues from attendees, understand more acutely what’s on their minds, and adjust the conversation appropriately to fully meet the requirements of the audience (and the sponsor). It means the difference between simply discussing a topic and actually getting to the root of what the attendees want to know, and what will compel them to have a favorable opinion of your brand. One of our star moderators says this is one of the most important skills a moderator can employ, but also one of the most difficult to master. It often demands precision timing, and takes years of on-site experience to truly gain proficiency.
Super Elasticity: Sure, there are moderators who can adapt to changes thrown at them at the last minute – a change to a PowerPoint deck, perhaps – but the real superheroes have an innate flexibility to handle the most stressful and event-impacting changes with ease, and often without anyone – attendee or sponsor – realizing there was even a change made. For example, one of our expert UBM Tech moderators was once faced with a potentially disastrous situation at an event when the featured speaker, a representative from the sponsor company, failed to show up. Without skipping a beat, and without benefit of any preparation, this superhero assumed the role of the featured speaker and delivered a knockout event that garnered high marks from the attendees.
Ability to Fly: You’d be surprised how many industry moderators (not ours, of course!) treat punctuality lightly. Some sluggishly show up to events just prior to the beginning, and while those moderators may still deliver a decent performance, the kryptonite of cutting corners with on-site prep weakens their ability to provide an excellent experience. The real superheroes swoop in well ahead of the event to offer their services wherever they may be needed – for instance, helping with AV glitches, last-minute speaker questions, suggestions on improving room setup, conversations with early attendees, etc. And it leads to a much higher quality event. Another of our expert moderators is especially skillful and respectful about showing up early to events and making sure all aspects of the event are in tip-top shape. If they’re not, he’ll dive in himself – or call in reinforcements – to resolve the issue and save the sponsor from unnecessary worry.
X-Ray Vision: During prep calls prior to events, good moderators will certainly run through a checklist of items that can help ensure an adequate event. However, the real superheroes listen intently to the sponsor’s requirements and have an innate ability to “see through” some of the more obvious issues being discussed to spot the hidden innovative ideas that can be coaxed out and delivered for the event to maximize its value. Rather than be content with simply delivering what the customers asks for, these superheroes use their powers to overdeliver. For instance, one of our moderators was once listening to a client discuss the format for their mobile enterprise event and suggested changes to an established agenda that enabled more conversation and less presentation, thereby increasing attendee show rate for the series and boosting evaluation scores.
Super Charisma: There’s no other way to put it – some people just have a super ability to charm an audience, be it with wit, personality, manners, or a combination of all these things. You can choose a moderator who seems like a perfectly nice girl or guy, but by finding someone with that je ne sais quoi, that extra skill to win over the audience with their natural style, you’re ensuring a valuable bond between the attendees and the moderator. That builds trust, which, again, extends to your brand. It also makes for an entertaining and memorable event. During your prep calls, listen for cues that the moderator is especially interested in working with you; does he or she sound extra friendly? Are you getting monosyllabic answers to your questions, or are you being engaged in conversation? While a sense of humor can be very effective in disarming an audience and building trust, it doesn’t mean you’re looking for a comedian. For example, one of our moderators scores high praise from our clients for his moderating skills because he’s so polite and accommodating and has a warm, engaging style. Another has a quick wit and command of pop culture references that humanizes the content and keeps attendees on the edge of their seats.
So when you’re considering a moderator for your events, you can do fine by choosing a mild-mannered Clark Kent or Lois Lane, or you can send up the bat signal and call in a true superhero who possesses these five superpowers to ensure that the event is a huge success.