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Claire Doole is a former BBC correspondent and international spokeswoman who is passionate about helping people communicate with confidence. Since 2006, she has successfully trained hundreds of professionals in the art of presenting and public speaking, talking to the media, managing communications in a crisis, and writing for the web. In addition, she has coached C-level executives and public figures to give powerful TEDx and TED style talks in Europe and the Middle East. A Swiss and UK national, Claire trains and coaches in French and English.

Claire is also a highly experienced moderator having facilitated panel discussions with government ministers, NGO activists, humanitarians and human rights specialists at major events.

www.doolecommunications.com

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

The sense of smell, as I realized while preparing to moderate the Global Fragrance Summit last month, is one of the most powerful of the senses. It not only evokes memories and shapes emotion but also lowers stress. However, it is also one of the most underappreciated. 
 
Preparing to moderate this event, as well as many recent engagements made me reflect that there is another sense that is also powerful but underused – the editorial sense. 
 
It is a sense that is particularly useful when designing an event and vital when briefing a professional moderator. A professional moderator brings many skills to the table from stage/screen presence to an ability to engage with the audience and keep an event to time. 
 
But if you want a professional panel moderator to steer the discussion, bring out insights from the speakers and to ensure the success of your event, you need to give them an in-depth editorial briefing as they are not subject experts. 
 

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Last month I ran a communications workshop for a regular client on a remote German island in the Baltic Sea for environmentalists from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 
 
For many years I have taught them the art of drafting a press release – a useful skill for simple, clear and concise writing in general. 
 
This year though a participant sprang a surprise. He and his group decided to ask Chat GPT to write the press release. Have a look here and see how they went about it. 
 
The results of the press release experiment
You can see he asked the right questions in terms of newsworthy content and style – simple with a conversational tone for the quotes. The headline is good but the opening paragraph should start with the name of the NGO and is too wordy. In general, the text needed sharpening, the quotes were too lengthy and the inclusion of a list of points made it read more like a report than a press release. A release should flow smoothly and ideally not exceed 500 to 750 words.
 
 Ashlee and Antonie show 2 ©Dennis Bouman\
@Dennis Bouman
 
By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com
 
After the summer break, we are now back in the world of webinars, hybrid and in-person events. 
 
I am being asked to moderate panel discussions - sometimes four or five consecutively on the same day - each with far too many people to have a real discussion. And if they are discussions and not “panel presentations”, they are far too scripted, predictable, and tell the audience little if anything they didn’t already know. 
 
Audiences tell me that most panels are pointless. I would agree unless they are well-moderated, audience-centric, and have the right speakers for the subject. 
 
It was therefore a joy in June to see a wonderfully moderated panel discussion at the Better Cotton Conference in Amsterdam where I was the Master of Ceremonies. 
 
Hats off to Antonie Fountain from the Voice Network and Ashlee Tuttleman from the Sustainable Trade Initiative for leading a dynamic and innovative session on sustainable livelihoods. Here is what they did so well: 
  •  Antonie showed that you can take a serious subject and make it engaging. Through great use of simple visuals (slides for example with one word on them) plus video clips from Monty Python and Indiana Jones, he gave us a captivating keynote about the lessons learned from the cocoa industry in building more sustainable livelihoods. 

Into the audience for questions

@Dennis Bouman

  • He and Ashlee then kept up the pace and energy by running a 20-minute quiz on Mentimeter for the online and in-person audience in which they debunked five myths about sustainable livelihoods. They went into the audience and engaged with them about their answers.

Into the audience for questions

  • And then the “piece de resistance”. They asked the three winners of the quiz to come on stage for an impromptu panel discussion.
  • The panelists were great, proving that often the real knowledge lies with the audience! 

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By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Many of us are visual learners and images definitely aid recall. So, it is surprising that not more event organisers engage graphic recordists.

They visually map conversations illuminating what is essential in real-time.

“People learn by looking and reading and they will remember things better if all of the senses are engaged”, says Carlotta Cataldi – who for the past 13 years has been bringing ideas alive visually at conferences and meetings.

Carlotta draws on paper, on what is called a knowledge wall, as well as digitally.

Claire Doole World Data Forum
 
By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com
 
As soon as the sound failed in the opening video, I knew the conference would be rock and roll. Fortunately, I had insisted on an earpiece. I told the hastily assigned director to put the video volume up and he subsequently told me in my earpiece when the last-minute replacement for the opening speaker had entered the room. In fact, he arrived too late to start the conference.  It was just as well that I had minutes beforehand lined up the second speaker to open it. 
 
And that is how the day went, constantly adapting the programme when speakers didn’t turn up, physically changing the number of chairs on the stage before each session and repeatedly checking the number of available microphones and whether they worked. 
 
In theory, acting as the Master of Ceremonies, (MC) is less work than moderating panel discussions, which takes a lot of preparation to do well. An MC’s job is to make sure the event goes smoothly, link the sessions and speakers and engage the audience. 
 
But if there has been no technical rehearsal the day before, and the team is a team of experts in their field but not in organising events - a situation I often face - the MC can find themselves in charge of a salvage operation - papering over the editorial and logistical cracks on the day as best they can.