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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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Tips from a Masterful Media Communicator
 
By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com
 
People often ask me who excels at talking to the media. My answer is Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of UNRWA – the UN Palestinian Relief Agency that employs 13,000 people in the Gaza Strip, and runs schools and social services. 
 
Lazzarini has one of the most challenging jobs in the world, made even more difficult since the events of October 7th. Currently, he is  banned by Israel from visiting Gaza, and his agency is not allowed to deliver much-needed food to the North of the strip where famine looms. Israel has also accused a dozen UNRWA staff of involvement in the Hamas attacks on Israel – allegations that remain unsubstantiated. 189 of his staff have so far lost their lives in the conflict.
 
Yet he remains cool, calm and collected when questioned by the media about those allegations, the effectiveness of the relief operations or the plight of the Palestinians. 
 
I have analyzed some of the interviews he has done with major international broadcasters, Al Jazeera, Sky News and BBC, over the past six months, with a view to illustrating some of the techniques he uses that make him such an excellent interviewee. 
 

Claire close up

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

One of the key roles of a conference moderator is making sure that everything goes smoothly. Whatever happens, the show must go on, and the only person who can ensure this is the moderator who has the microphone.
 
Nothing as dramatic has happened to me as the famous incident back in the 1980’s when BBC newsreader Sue Lawley carried on reading the news when activists stormed the studio – one handcuffing herself to a camera and the other crouching below the newsreader's desk!
 
However, here are a few conference shockers that I had to deal with and ensure the show went on… 
 
The rollercoaster of technical chaos: At one event, we were eagerly awaiting the keynote speaker's wisdom, only to be met with the dreaded "failed to connect" message not once, not twice, but three times on day one. The organisers refused to ask her to pre-record her remarks for day two and, predictably, day two didn't fare any better! Again, we twice tried to connect, but our speaker remained elusive, leaving us hanging without a single word of her anticipated keynote.
 
But wait, there's more! As we attempted to patch in speakers from every corner of the globe, it seemed like the universe conspired against us. Five consecutive no-shows! It was like a virtual game of hide-and-seek, and we were losing spectacularly.

Claire close up

By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com

Someone asked me this week to explain the role of a panel moderator.

I replied that it was to facilitate an insightful discussion for the audience. Remember them? The most neglected part of an event except when organisers panic the room might not be full.

Unfortunately, engaging debates are sometimes very difficult to achieve when you are brought in at the last moment and the panelists have already been selected by the organisers for political or PR reasons. It is like trying to bake a great cake with the wrong ingredients.

Drawing on decades of experience and a lot of patience, I usually manage after speaking individually to each panelist to construct a flow and exchange between the panelists, that is engaging and insightful. Of course, the discussion is compromised in terms of depth as I have to loop in people who either don’t want to address the theme of the panel or don’t have the knowledge to do so.

There seems to be a view by some organisations - the more panelists the merrier, as this shows how well-connected and influential, they are. However, this leads to frustration all around – from the panelists themselves, who have less time to get their points across, from the moderator who has to keep the discussion at a relatively high level and the audience, who most probably have learned nothing they don’t already know.

cartoon science
 
By Claire Doole, www.doolecommunications.com
 
When was the last time you heard a great keynote speech? 
 
Many speakers use them to sell themselves or their organisation, neglecting to engage with the theme of the event.
 
Not so Dr Stephen Feeley, Chief Statistician at WHO, tasked with giving the keynote before a panel discussion I moderated on data governance and fake news at Davos last month. 
 
A double-headed title for a panel discussion is always challenging as it can belie a lack of focus. 
 
Dr Feeley took up the challenge and delivered a keynote that set up the panel discussion that was thought-provoking, entertaining and memorable. 
 
So, what did he do?
  • He had a clear objective – to inspire and unify the audience around a common purpose.
  • He had a clear central argument – making the case for a global data governance framework.
  • He understood the audience – pitching the level correctly so they were not bored nor confused but engaged in his thinking.
  • He simplified the key message into a call to action so that the audience knew what was expected of them.
  • He structured the speech by first talking about the problem before going to the solution.
  • He hooked the audience with the specific – fake news – before going to the general – fake news as an example of the need for data governance. 

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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.