The City Club of Cleveland is one of the nation’s great free speech forums. A product of the Progressive Era, it was founded in 1912 and is one of the nation’s oldest continuous independent free speech forums, renowned for their tradition of debate and discussion. For more than a hundred years, all of their speakers—from sitting presidents to community activists—have answered unfiltered, unrehearsed questions directly from the audience.
Given the hundreds of forums each year on the City Club stage, perhaps no one knows more about the mechanics of putting together speaking events than Dan Moulthrop, Chief Executive Officer, The City Club of Cleveland, who writes:
In this business of convening community conversation, we are constantly recruiting new people to moderate panel conversations and interview guests. And over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at doing this ourselves; in fact, sometimes people reach out to us for how-to advice and best practices when it comes to moderating. So, to take some of the mystery out of it, here’s our best shot at best practices in moderating panels and conducting interviews.
Your job in a nutshell. Help the audience connect to the topic and the conversation on a meaningful, personal level. You are a surrogate for the audience members who wish they were asking the questions.
Know what you’ll say to introduce the panelists. The bios you receive have more information than the audience needs. Take a moment to figure out what’s most important to share with the audience. Do not read the bios verbatim.
Prepare a few words of introduction to frame the conversation. This can be based on a framing question that you and your colleagues used to put the forum together, but you may decide to expand on that question or put the issues in a slightly different context.
For the rest of this excellent how-to, click here.