Once you have agreed to moderate the Q&A, you’ll need
to do your homework. The difference between a mediocre
interview and an amazing interview is in the preparation.
The adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure” is distinctly true when it comes to one-on-one interviews and panel discussions. In preparation, you will need
to do the following:
Research your topic, the interviewee and the
audience. It is your job to facilitate the conversation so
the audience receives tremendous value from the panel’s
expertise and perspectives. You cannot do this effectively if
you don’t know the people, the topic or what your audience expects.
Connect with your interviewee. Send an email invite
to discuss the moderated Q&A session by phone or Skype.
Make sure you are on the same page and encourage them
to think through the key messages and examples or stories
that illuminate those key messages.
Curate great questions. You’ll want to get the conversation started quickly with well-prepared conversation
starter questions. Start with broad or “high-altitude” questions designed to discuss what is happening in the world,
move to the benefits and/or consequences as to why the
audience should care, and then move into more specific
questions where the interviewee will be more inclined to
share anecdotes, concrete examples and implementation
ideas. Be willing to let go of your planned questions
should a particularly interesting line of discussion emerge.
Decide the Q&A format. You have a couple of options
as to how you will entertain question from the audience:
LIVE. Take questions from the floor. There are
four ways to get audience questions.
• Queue. Questioners line up at the microphone.
• Runners. With a cordless microphone, support
staff runs to questioners who have their hands
raised in anticipation.
• Oprah-Style. The moderator roams the audience
with a cordless microphone to take questions.
• Catchbox. The audience tosses a throwable
microphone to the next questioner.
Mary Kelly, PhD, CSP ,
Commander USA (Ret),
moderated 2017 Winter
Jason Forrest, MBA;
Scott Halford, CSP , CPAE;
William L. “T” Thompson,
JD, CSP; and Joel Block,