3 Reasons Why Moderators Sabotage Public Speakers


Imagine you’ve been invited to speak on the main stage. You’re going to be videotaped. A speaker agent is going to attend your session. It’s a dream come true. So what could go wrong?

My client was excited to speak at a women’s conference and to share her story. It would be an opportunity to showcase her business. and there would be potential sales after the speech. We worked over a period of weeks crafting her message and fine tuning the delivery. Finally, the day of the conference arrived. I told my client that I would attend in the afternoon so I could catch her session. I was confident that she would do well and I was eager to see her.

But when I arrived, the conference was behind schedule. I asked my client what happened. Apparently, the first speaker went over her time by one hour and they would have to play catch up. How could this have happened? When a meeting is behind schedule it’s usually a reflection on the moderator of the event. Here are three reasons why moderators sabotage public speakers:

Too Nice. In the case of my friend, when the opening speaker went over her time, the moderator did nothing. She let her continue to talk. She didn’t know how to stop the speaker and didn’t want to embarrass the speaker. The moderator had a reputation for being “too nice.”

Being a moderator requires assertiveness and a certain level of skill. To manage a loquacious speaker, state the expectations in advance. Have a timer in the back of the room. Give a one minute verbal signal. And if all else fails, turn up the music and thank the presenter.

Ego. A moderator should never be a panelist. This is a big mistake. I was once on a panel with three other presenters. One of the presenters was also the moderator. When it was her turn to speak, she blathered on and didn’t care about the time. I finally wrote her a note that her time was up.

Poor Design. If a meeting or conference is not well-planned it can throw off the event and all of the speakers. Someone once hired an event planner and showed us the agenda. As soon as I looked at the schedule I knew this was going to a disaster. The time slots for the speakers allowed no time between sessions. The first session was from 9:00-10:00. The second session was from 10:00-11:00. How were people going to get to the next room? Logistics are critical to the success of a speaker. Imagine the time lost and the noisy confusion as the crowds would try to get to the next room. Fortunately, we corrected the mistake.

Whether moderating a panel, a meeting, or running a conference, the person in charge of speakers has an important role. Giving a knockout presentation is a team sport. It takes a good moderator to help the speaker shine on stage.