questions from the audience, there’s always a risk that someone will go wildly
off topic and inhibit the flow of the
presentation. A successful moderator
may consider directing a question to a
particular panelist, rather than simply
tossing it to the panel as a whole. He or
she may also consider rephrasing the
question if it is off topic or if it assists
the flow of the presentation. Finally,
he or she should not be shy about
redirecting an awkward or out of place
question to something that the panel
can address. The judicious use of humor, one not directed at the questioner,
might be useful in such circumstances.
Being a good panelist or moderator takes practice, so build up your
experience to develop and maintain
your skills. Find opportunities both
internally at your organization and
externally in the legal community. Give
briefings, lead brown-bag lunch discussions, or conduct training sessions.
Speak at conferences. Teach a course.
How do you launch your speaking
career? Most organizations thrive on
volunteers, so find an organization
that you are interested in and take
responsibility for something, anything,
to increase your visibility within that
organization. Volunteering for an ACC
chapter or national committee is a natural way to establish yourself with your
peer group. Let them know you are
interested in speaking at or moderating
programs, webcasts, or sessions of the
ACC Annual Meeting. Keep your eye
out for good topics or propose a specific program. After establishing that
you have “sweat equity” in an organization, you can step up and help develolp
panels of interest, allowing you to take
a more active role in such presentations. And once people understand that
you are a “workhorse” and not a “show
horse,” you will often find that you’re
given opportunities to take a more substantive role in the organization.
Before long, you will have burnished your professional brand and
Tips for the moderator
Being a successful moderator for a panel of distinguished panelists is
a tough job, requiring the ability to hide in plain sight. The moderator
must take the lead role in developing the agenda for the presentation,
soliciting both input and buy-in from the panelists, learning which panelist
wants to focus on what particular area of interest, and then acting as
a conductor during the presentation. More important than keeping the
presentation on schedule, a successful moderator thinks on their feet,
guiding the discussion as it occurs, while developing interesting lines of
analysis. A skilled moderator should not feel shy about inserting his or her
own opinion into the discussion, whether as a stalking horse for others
to build upon, or based on personal experiences. Further, the successful
moderator provides transitions between panelists and the distinct parts of
the program, helping to guide the audience through the presentation.
The moderator must always be mindful of the focus of the panel and bring
the discussion back around to these objectives, remembering what the
audience came to hear, and what the panel wants to convey. Further, a
successful moderator will ensure that the panel does not become a discussion
among the participants only — or a discussion that appears to be too
self-referential — as that’s always a risk when dealing with accomplished
panelists. Setting the stage for this sort of exchange, while keeping the
focus on the audience, are critical aspects of the moderator’s job.
What’s more, a moderator should try to establish a relaxed, contented
atmosphere for the panel, one in which panelists are comfortable
venturing opinions. For this reason, a successful moderator may
find that using humor is more a part of their toolkit than for the
panelists. It’s a way to leave both the speakers and the audience
at ease and help create an engaging, in-depth discussion.
ACC EXTRAS ON… Speaking engagements
From GC to Trial Lead: Fannie Mae’s
Top Lawyer Before the Supreme Court
(May 2017). www.accdocket.com/articles/
Seize the Hidden Opportunity of a Crisis
(Dec. 2016). www.accdocket.com/articles/
Lead the Way — Decide. Design. Determine.
Do. Duplicate (Sept. 2015). www.accdocket.
Engaging Your Network: Shaka Johnson
(July/Aug. 2015). www.accdocket.com/
“Talk like TED”: Tips & Tricks for Public
Speaking (July/Aug. 2016). www.acc.com/
Sample Form & Policy
Starting a Value-Based Discussion Policy
(Dec. 2015). www.acc.com/legalresources/
ACC HAS MORE MATERIAL ON THIS SUBJECT
ON OUR WEBSITE. VISIT WWW.ACC.COM,
WHERE YOU CAN BROWSE OUR RESOURCES BY
PRACTICE AREA OR SEARCH BY KEYWORD.
HAVE A COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE? VISIT ACC’S BLOG AT WWW.INHOUSEACCESS.COM/ACC-DOCKET.