Over the past year we’ve assisted with more celebrity and musician Q&A events than ever, mostly because it’s one way to connect in a virtual setting that really works well. BUT the success of your event often depends on 1 or 2 key individuals – your moderator(s). 

A moderator can make or break your event. Thus, here are some tips. A good moderator…

 

…is comfortable.

A calm, comfortable moderator makes an artist/celebrity feel comfortable, and therefore makes for a better event. Discomfort is contagious, and you do not want your artist trying to make the moderator feel comfortable instead of the other way around.

 

…is a good listener.

This is perhaps the most important quality of a good moderator. Listening to the artist/celeb’s responses, reacting, and being able to adapt based on the answers is key. This allows the moderator to also ask for further explanation or make the event more conversational than one-sided. Example – if an artist tells a story that answers a question slotted for later in the Q&A, a good moderator can skip that question because they know it was already answered.

 

…has a solid internet connection.

(If the event is virtual.) Perhaps this is obvious, but if your moderator’s internet drops it makes for a very awkward moment in the Q&A. Try to do whatever you can to ensure proper internet for them, even if it means they need to host the Q&A from a different location than their home.

 

…has a co-moderator when necessary.

Having 2 moderators for some events can be really effective in creating more of a 3-way conversation. This works well for comedic Q&As, where laughing and reaction is key to making the artist feel heard. It also helps alleviate any issues because if one moderator’s internet has a problem, the other is at least still present.

 

…speaks loudly and clearly, but does not talk over someone.

Remember that this event is about the artist/celebrity. As much as the moderator is vital to the event, they must realize people are there to see the artist and want to hear them speak the most.

 

…asks appropriate questions.

Most Q&As have pre-approved questions, but some leave time for impromptu questions from the audience. Make sure to skip any questions involving personal romances or relationships, how much money someone makes, “trapping” questions that are aiming to get the artist to say something negative about someone else, controversial topics or topics that you’ve been asked to avoid.

 

…has energy.

Facial expressions, excitement that can be heard in your voice, and a good attitude are ideal. A sleepy moderator will produce a sleepy event. If standing helps, set up your device and camera so you can stand.

 

…has done their research.

They are familiar with the artist (at least some of their work) and has watched a recent interview or two online so they know what to expect.

 

…is communicating with the planning team.

Meaning, they are clear on the flow of the event and aware of timing and when to ask their final question, even if it means being cued by the logistics team.

Bonus points go to moderators who:

  • are fans of the artist or celebrity, while still remaining professional
  • consciously set up their background – either with posters, art, a curtain, or anything that helps set the tone of the event without being overly distracting
  • use a real external microphone
  • make things feel impromptu 
  • make the audience feel involved
  • give context to their questions, such as explaining what they are referring to (i.e. “you recently had a video go viral…” so the artist feels like they understand each question fully 
  • are not the ones running the logistics of the event, so they can focus solely on their moderating responsibilities
  • include some pre-approved fun – i.e. a silly game, speed round or Instagram deep dive photo to talk about

Overall, make sure your moderator is comfortable on camera and speaking publicly. Make sure they prepare in advance and know what is expected of them. Remember that the moderator is representing the host organization as a whole, so choose wisely. 

If you have an upcoming Q&A with How To Concerts, we are happy to meet with moderators in advance to go over best practices. We want you to feel prepared, we want your moderator to feel comfortable, and above all – we want the artist/celebrity to have a quality experience so they can be fully present and invested.

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]