Ever bored at conferences?

Sometimes excited and remembering conclusions?

The work to prepare an ‘OK’ or a ‘great’
conference is nearly the same.

Make a difference by checking these 4 x 6 = 24 points !


  1. real debates generate interests and solutions (PowerPoint presentations can circulate before and after)
  2. the moderator represents participants (more than speakers)
  3. participants do have points to make (which can be gathered efficiently)
  4. organisers have legitimate goals and constraints (worth explaining simply)
  5. keynotes are useful, but only for ‘key points’ and by ‘really key’ people
  6. events can trigger media coverage (but don’t rely on journalist registrations and a press release)


  1. balance the panel: mix different interests, nationalities, gender, age etc.
  2. pick an experienced moderator (e.g. from a specialised media, independent and with policy knowledge)
  3. send an annotated agenda with clear format timings and possible topics to panelists +
  4. offer a telco with all panelists (better than last min ‘briefing in speakers’ room) and/or send a written briefing
  5. get mobile phone numbers of speakers (assistants) to call them in case they run late
  6. use social networks: communicate a #hashtag before & during the event, install a Twitter wall to allow for the involvement of remote participants, provide free Wifi


  1. handle the debate like a talk show (after the keynotes): 1 round of questions from the moderator, then 1 or 2 rounds of (grouped) questions from participants, encourage different views, then a concluding speaker round
  2. check logistics, microphones, visual aids, etc. once more just before the event
  3. low-tech hint for assertive moderators: use ‘raise your hand’ questions to engage all participants and check conclusions
  4. allow spontaneity, depending on relevance and time: follow-up points, interruptions, jokes, applause or ‘boos’ from the room
  5. be firm on time, using visual prompts to speakers (hint for assertive moderators: stand up, and ‘help’ a speaker running out of steam by putting a ‘concluding question’)
    At the very end:
  6. share not conclusions, but few ‘personal impressions’ leading to next steps in the conference and for organisers



  1. distribute feedback forms including follow-up questions or draft conclusions (don’t rely on emails afterward: memory and energy fades quickly)
  2. prepare the draft press release and emailing “long list” before the event, so you only need to add a few quotes and send it out
  3. call a short list of journalists and opinion makers the next day
  4. if there is a conference report: prepare immediately, issue it the next week. Proceedings 2 months later have little value
  5. send press release + links to media coverage to all invitees (participating or not) within 3 days of the event
  6. plan holiday a few days later, but not right the next day!


Imitation is the best compliment, but do mention the source!

The above checklist is available under a Creative Commons license.



  1. This checklist of 24 points is largely shared with other experienced moderators from EURACTIV’s European Media Network in 15 capitals and 15 languages.
  2. Contact us with your conference topic and date: we will try to match you with the right person.
  3. Good moderators typically charge a fee. EURACTIV will consider moderating for free when organised for its communication clients. On relevant subjects, it also provides packages including preparatory LinksDossiers, editorially independent Special Reports and video production, including quick summaries.
  4. To grow interest in your topic, and support the debate around a broader theme: associate yourself to a policy section, well before and after your conference.
  5. Spread beyond the event room with Live video streaming, or even better: a video summary, including ‘soundbites off the podium’ with key speakers

Got inspired? Need a moderator?

Contact Christophe Leclercq: | +32 2 226 58 13
@LeclercqEU on Twitter | profile on LinkedIn

More on moderation with EURACTIV


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