top of page

How to Moderate a Session

Guidance Notes Moderators


Thank you for agreeing to moderate one of our sessions. To help you prepare we have produced a short video with some of our tips for moderating a successful session.


As the moderator, you are required to liaise with the panellists to arrange discussion assignments.   You should ask the panellists to provide you with the questions in advance and modify where necessary. The moderator must meet all panelists in the meeting room at least 15 minutes before the session start in order to prepare.


Moderating a Top Tips

To ensure your session is a success, try to think of yourself as the pilot of a plane.  Your role is to steer the discussion, keep your session on time, and put both your audience and your guest speakers at ease for the duration of their ‘flight’ with you.  Done properly, your session will be a valuable opportunity to evaluate important research and engage the audience in meaningful dialogue.


Here are some of our top tips to moderating a successful session at EACTS:



1. Be prepared before the session

Well in advance of the day of your session you will need to learn your session’s format and timings and read all relevant manuscripts, presentations or abstracts. Then, discuss them with your panelists to prepare relevant questions for the presenters.


2. Timing, Timing, Timing

At least 15 minutes before the session begins, you must meet with your panelists to discuss the session and review the prepared questions and session time limits. Then meet the presenters to remind them of the session time limits and ask how to pronounce unfamiliar names before you introduce them!  Explain that you will give them a 1 min warning and stop them when their time is up.

When the speaker’s time is up, simply interrupt to thank them and move into the discussion portion. Remember to not be intimidated by senior speakers. Be polite but firm and keep absolutely everyone to their allocated time! : )


3. Getting started

Begin your session on time with a very brief opening: introduce yourself, your panelists and the name of your first presenter and where they are from, but – let them do that.



4. Keep it lively

As session moderator, it’s your role to lead a meaningful and energetic discussion on the topic just presented. You want to lead a fast-paced intelligent conversation between smart people on a stage.


For success - stay focused and pay attention to what’s being said and after each presentation instruct the assigned panelist to ask their prepared questions. Tell the audience that you will take their questions at the end.


And, if you’re moderating a rapid response session .



5. You are in charge, but don’t steal the spotlight

Asking prepared questions gets the discussion off to a great start, but be careful to not let yourself or the panelists steal the spotlight by telling everyone what you know about the topic.


Remember - the stage belongs to the presenter and you are merely helping them to present their work.


And, if an audience member becomes rude or goes off topic, you will need to step in and try to. Remember to always be polite, but firm!



6. Be friendly and engaging

When you are introducing presenters and panelists or asking questions remember that your tone of voice and body language matters. We suggest that you speak in a low-pitched voice with a relatively slow pace, rather than a high-pitched voice with a fast pace.


Look friendly and engaged by remembering to smile, sit up, lean forward and make eye contact! Don’t slouch back, spread out and take a nap!


7. You can do this!

Be prepared, keep on time, keep it lively, you are in charge, and be friendly and engaging. We know there is a lot to remember, but we asked you to pilot one of our sessions because we know you will do an excellent job. Enjoy the journey and have an excellent session!



Thank you and good luck.





Moderating a Panel: 3 tips

Moderating a session at a NASS meeting


Cardiff University Department of Dermatology: How to CHAIR and academic session


How to be the chair of a meeting


Harvard Business Review: How to moderate a panel like a pro | Scott Kirsner


TED TALK: How to speak so that people will listen | Julian Treasure


John Glenn School of Public Affairs: How to be a moderator


bottom of page