Basics of a Moderated Panel Webinar

By Sharat Sharan, John Carucci

If you’ve watched The McLaughlin Group, you see how unruly things can get when the format includes speakers with differing opinions. A moderated panel webinar is a more elaborate format that provides your audience with a controlled discussion by a panel of speakers.

The secret to its success demands a lot from the host, who must maintain the flow by wearing the hats of leader, entertainer, and referee. Sometimes things get unruly and the moderator must keep the speakers from talking over each other and getting into the occasional fistfight. (Okay, the last one probably won’t happen.)

Although the moderated panel offers the potential of being the most informative, entertaining, and compelling format to present your webinar, it’s also the type that requires the most planning to make it work. Obviously, when more pieces are involved, it makes getting them all in synch all the more important, but it’s hard to rehearse a moderated panel because the panelists make it challenging to gauge the flow.

Here are a few situations where this type of meeting works best:

  • When there are a few topics to discuss: The host usually introduces herself and the panel to the webinar audience, sets up the topics for discussion, and carefully makes sure the topics do not run over their allotted time period.

  • When a well-balanced approach is essential: This works with situations that do not have a clear answer, so the multiple voices provide additional perspective for the audience.

  • For a question-and-answer session: By allowing participants to ask questions, you can provide the web audience with a wide range of thoughts and opinions on the subject.