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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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Claire Doole Soundbites blog
Photo credit: CartoonStock

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

As a journalist, I knew immediately what sound bites I would use in my radio or television reports for the BBC. They were the couple of sentences that made for lively copy and were instantly memorable.

What I may not have grasped in my rush to hit my deadline was that the speaker or in some cases their communications teams had carefully crafted that sound bite with the express intent that I would use it. They knew that sound bites serve as a perfect delivery vehicle for their key messages.

Speakers, who want their messages to be memorable, ensure that they plant at least one sound bite in their media interviews and speeches to illustrate their central idea. They then use them again in their Tweets as 280 characters are the equivalent of around 50 words or 17 seconds of speech.

CDC Swiss media landscape 500

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

On March 4, the Swiss will vote on getting rid of the compulsory radio and television licence fee. If they say yes, Switzerland will become the first country in Europe to abolish the bulk of its public-service broadcasting.

As a former BBC journalist and recently naturalised Swiss citizen, it is a subject close to my heart.

I have seen ads in the cinema, watched discussions on Swiss television and walked past posters in the street.

CDC laughing compressed

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

Moderating a conference about the possible reclassification of a chemical compound as carcinogenic is no laughing matter. The revaluation of antimony, a substance found in many household and manufacturing products, would have severe repercussions for those involved in its trade and manufacture.

However, as you can see from the photos, we did raise a few laughs during the day. How? We made the conference as interactive as possible – quizzes, panel discussions, group brainstorming and feedback sessions. As a former TV and radio producer, I know that you have to keep on changing the pace and content of a programme to keep the audience engaged.

But our secret ingredient was to use a cartoonist to make everyone laugh. Floris Oudshoorn is a gem. A Dutch cartoonist, who is fluent in English, he recapped the main points with some of his very witty digital sketches.

CDC Interacting with audience
Photo courtesy of Women's Forum for Economy and Society

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

The audience is king in communications. Whether giving a presentation, talking to the media, or writing a document, who matters most is the viewer, listener or reader. What do you want them to do, feel or say as a result of your communications?

How strange this is too often forgotten when organising a conference.

I am sure you have attended conferences where death by PowerPoint was a real possibility or panel discussions where the moderator runs out of time for the Q and A session with the audience.

Have a read of this article by Guardian journalist, Duncan Green, entitled "Conference rage: How did awful panel discussions become the default format?"

He says, "a badly run conference is not only a lost opportunity, but a waste of time. How can we improve them?"

He gives a lot of good ideas, but doesn't mention how technology can really make a difference, putting the audience back in the driving seat.

Claire Doole Metal Packaging Europe AGM
Metal Packaging Europe, AGM, Lisbon

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

A straw poll of colleagues and clients confirmed my view that people often confuse the different roles.

I frequently receive confused requests. Not so long ago, I was asked to moderate when in fact after some discussion the client and I agreed they needed instead a Master of Ceremonies. Another client contacted me to moderate, but in fact what they required was a Master of Ceremonies and facilitator.

When organizing an event, how do you make sure you get the right person for the right job?

Some broad definitions to keep in mind:

  • A moderator guides the discussion, often but not always in a panel format.
  • A Master of Ceremonies is responsible for the "show* - the whole event as it unrolls on the day.  
  • A facilitator is responsible for a process - helping people make decisions and achieve results.

While there are differences in responsibilities, there is a common base of skills across the three roles: you need someone who is neutral, is a good listener, and is a clear and confident communicator.

The nuance is that the different roles require more of one skill over another. By understanding this difference, you can be sure that you have hired the right person for the right job.

From my experience, here are the prerequisites: