If you would like to serve as a moderator, please contact TCS 21 Program Chair Lisa Schiavinato at:
have a special job in public presentations. While the work put
into developing a session will determine its value, the professional
polish a moderator provides in conducting the session greatly
reinforces the content and message. Many moderators also play
a role as a speaker. If this is the case, the moderator should
introduce him or herself as both at the start of a session.
The moderator must prepare all speakers for the session, so
that they understand clearly what is expected of them. Moderators
must speak with each speaker about his or her own presentation
in order to understand how one presentation coordinates with
the others. It is important for the moderator to let each speaker
know what other speakers in the session are talking about.
written correspondence is good for confirming details, telephone
conversations are effective for resolving questions. Well-prepared
moderators will talk with speakers at least twice during the
planning process. Sometimes, the moderator completes the planning
stage with a conference call among all speakers.
must be informed of the date, time and location of the public
presentation. Even if another person is sending the speakers
this information, a considerate moderator will communicate this
material as well, to make certain it is received and understood.
It is important for moderators to be precise and firm with speakers
about the amount of time allocated to their presentations. While
most speakers will try to comply with the time limits, few are
aware of their pace when actually presenting. Therefore, moderators
need to be proactive in keeping the session on schedule.
Moderators prepare the audience to listen by first introducing
the session and its purpose. Next, the moderator introduces
all speakers. Moderators will be provided with speaker biographies.
Moderators should attempt to make all introductions similar.
Introductions should be informative yet also brief.
Time For Discussion
All sessions must leave time for discussion. TCS conference
sessions are one hour long, which, for example, leaves 20 minutes
for each speaker during a 4-speaker session. The moderator and
speakers should reserve between 5 to 8 minutes for interaction
with the audience. Therefore, for instance, during a four-speaker
session, presentations should take between 12 and 15 minutes.
Moderators have the option, however, of allowing discussion
after each individual presentation or holding discussion until
after all the speakers have made their presentations.
a Speaker Runs Over Time
Speakers talking past the time limit of their presentation is
common. This is a problem because it may affect the time allotted
to the other speakers during the session and may be affect the
next session. Some tips to diplomatically remind a speaker of
During the planning stages, alert the speakers to the fact
that all time limits will be strictly observed. If a speaker
has problems condensing information, offer to review the
presentation and suggest ways it can be shortened before
the session begins, remind the speakers of their time limits,
and tell the speakers clearly that you will signal them
as they come to the end of their time.
a technique to alert speakers they are coming to the end
of their time. For example, one or two minutes before the
end of the talk (particularly if the talk does not seem
to be winding down), call “time” softly to the
speaker, pass him/her a slip with the remaining time written
on it, or tap a pencil.
other techniques to end the presentation, such as standing
or walking toward the speaker. Moderators should use approaches
that are comfortable to them.
Sometimes, announcements are a necessary feature of sessions.
Moderators should read the announcements and alert the audience
to handouts or additional materials.
guidelines have been adapted from the American Planning Association’s
2002 Moderator’s Guide [accessed at http://www.planning.org/].