Moderate a live video broadcast of an expert panel like a pro

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Live video broadcasts are growing with various formats in play as a marketing tool. An exciting form is an expert panel in a studio, video recorded with a podcast-like set-up. But what do you need to do to come across as a great moderator for such a panel? A challenge where you need to add value in planning and to execute the broadcast. 

Take advantage of the studio set-up and leverage all planned camera angles 

You have a professional production team behind you for live video broadcast recordings. A team is responsible for setting up a multi-camera set-up of your studio and executing the production. 

Adding video to a podcast-like production gives hosts/moderators a few new elements to manage. Naturally shifting between the cameras you look towards during the presentation. Manage the timing for the different sections of what you decide to cover. Make guests comfortable with the format and studio before and during the show. 

Scripts for panelists and camera crew is key to success

A live video broadcast needs a tighter script than an audio podcast as you will not have any editing possibilities afterward. Scripting needs to support you execute well both regarding quality and time management. 

Script as you would do for a podcast. Around a set of vital questions for your panel, agreed with panelists in advance. Aim for a semi-scripted session where you have a few essential questions to tee off the panel, with room to go with the flow of the discussion in the second phase of the show. 

You have a panel where panelists represent complementary skills and viewpoints in an ideal situation. You start with an initial round of questions, giving each panelist a few key points across. Plan to give each panelist 2-3 minutes to make their opening remarks. At this stage, they establish their rapport with the audience and confidence in their area of expertise. These questions are firm and agreed upon in advance. 

The next phase is where you, as a moderator, add the most value. You might have a few prepared questions, more designed to build complementary insights across panelists. Your focus is on creating flow in the conversation among your experts rather than sticking to a firm script. When your expert panelists open up and comment on their peers’ points, the real magic kicks in. 

Create two versions of your script—one to be shared with panelists

Focus on describing formats, and the opening questions agreed with all panelists. Set the expectations that the remaining part of the session will be looser and more of a conversation. The second version is for you and the production team. With crucial milestones for timing. Details for the introduction of your guests to guide cuts. Invest plenty of time in a well-scripted hot start kicking off the show. 

Essential steps to execute your live broadcast plan well

Ask your guest to plan to arrive early and be seated in the studio 15 minutes before you go live. Use the time to allow panelists to get to know each other. To understand camera positions and how to manage their microphones. Since your studio mimics a podcast, you use tabletop microphones with pop filters rather than lapel microphones. 

Put the essential part of your script on Q-cards. Half-letter (A5) size cards you use during the show. Each card contains information and the critical timing milestones. Cards branded on the backside, a feature your audience will see during the show. 

Make sure you have a count-down clock in front of you. To allow you to track execution towards plan whenever your panelists speak. 

With this level of preparations, the rest will come naturally: 

  • Kick-start your panel with a hot start.
  • Introduce the topic and participants upfront. 
  • Go through the first round of questions to establish positions and credibility. 
  • Go with the flow with a mix of prepared and spontaneous questions. 
  • Ask your expert panelists to make their points in 90-180 second sequences to get their insights across. 
  • Close by Summing-up your sessions at in 60-90 seconds with the key takeaways. 
  • Suggest further actions if suitable. 
  • Thank your panel and the audience for participating.

Questions for you and your team

  • How do you name the panel to draw a crowd? Not even expert panels sell themselves without a title. 
  • How long do you want your panel to be? To go deep enough AND get points across in short attention spans. 
  • What should you script in the hot start? It would be best if you had a tight and well-rehearsed hot-start to make the panel take off immediately.
  • What is the starting question for each panelist? To be shared in advance. 
  • Which pre-defined questions do we need to simulate the conversation? – a handful will be sufficient. 
  • How much information do I want on my Q-cards? Big text for easy reading and focus on essential points. 

Additional reading suggestions 

This blog post stems from my learnings from a live broadcast of an expert panel on Mobile World Congress 2019. They were written on a flight from London to Dallas, somewhere over Canada, and little did I know then how valuable these insights would become.

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