Facilitators & Moderators
Facilitators and Moderators are vital cogs in a conference. When a panel discussion is scheduled during a conference, having a highly skilled, impartial Moderator in place to control and lead the discussion between the panellists is a must. Here is a short explanation to emphasise the difference between a facilitator and a moderator: Starting with the role of the facilitator, these highly skilled men and women help make the life of a conference organiser or event producer a whole lot easier. In a nutshell, a first-class facilitator will ensure a seamless running order which is essential to the success of any conference or event. They do a huge amount of research before the event, liaise with the organiser to discuss the detailed agenda and on the day keep it to order. They are responsible for everything from kick starting the day by explaining the agenda, to introducing invited keynote and internal speakers. They may also be required to interview dignitaries and special guests, and they know how to encourage the audience during questions and answer sessions. Time management is an essential facilitation skill as is a facilitator’s ability to act on their feet in the unlikely event of an unexpected happening such as technical issues or an unexpected fire alarm. Stellar in their delivery, they know when to use whimsy, and they keep everything and everyone together. They are usually well-established current affairs or TV, Broadcast and Print journalists, editors, and subject specific correspondents. They are always professional, objective, diligent, and committed to the job to hand. A moderator on the other hand is specifically on hand to manage a particular discussion where a number of people, usually four or five with opposing or different views participate in a debate, or discussion. They may be from different areas within an institution, or they may be from different companies or organisations. They may all be on the same side of the topic up for discussion but come at it from different angles. The moderator will lead a discussion or debate by asking the right questions but like the facilitator, remains impartial throughout each panel every time. In other words, their role is to act as a neutral in a debate or discussion, making sure participants keep to time limits. Moderators also ensure that the panellists don’t stray from the topic of the questions being raised in the debate. Again, they do their homework before the event ensuring they know a lot about each panellist. And they also tend to be highly competent, well-known, or highly experienced interviewers from the worlds of news and current affairs. In closing, this analogy sums up the difference between the two. A facilitator is someone who ensures the event runs smoothly by segueing the various elements flawlessly throughout the day. A Moderator is someone who umpires a panel so is there for the specific session and is responsible for nurturing debates and controlling the contributions.