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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 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:

CDC Gabor the coach
Photo by Deborah Berlinck

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

I know very little about classical music, but I was privileged to have a front row seat to a master class given by Gabor Takacs-Nagy. As I watched Takacs-Nagy in action, I realised much of what he said applied to public speaking – a world I know more about.

Takacs-Nagy, a renowned Hungarian violinist and conductor, is Director of the Verbier festival chamber orchestra. The festival, in the heart of the Alps, runs from 21st July to the 6th August, and is a key event in the classical music calendar.

CDC Verbier inthe mountains

Photo by Deborah Berlinck

So what does playing in public and speaking in public have in common?

British PM Theresa May 500
Photo credit ©BBC Newsight

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

It amazes me that politicians still think they can get away with not answering the question during media interviews. Who are they hiring for media training? Certainly not me!

The web is full of examples of what not to do during a media interview. In my trainings I use an example of a Blackberry executive who is so on message but completely fails to hear the question.

Watch this as an example of a car-crash interview on BBC Breakfast News.

CDC 72 artist and flu vaccine

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

One of the golden rules of moderating is that the moderator does not have a view. Your role is to remain neutral and stimulate discussion so that the audience is engaged, learns something new and ideally changes behaviour or takes action afterwards.

However, once my job was over, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) asked me to reflect on my experience of moderating two panel discussions at their event marking World Immunization Week.

The theme of the symposium was flu vaccines part of the solution for a healthier and more productive society. It is a challenging theme – perhaps not as immediately gripping as the panel discussion the day after on shortages and supply. As I know from my background as a BBC correspondent and PR professional, it is easier to sell problems than solutions.

CDC journalism 2

By Claire Doole, Claire Doole Communications

My colleague, Jean Milligan, and myself, have just come back from Bangladesh where we were handling the local media for an event organised by one of Geneva’s international organisations.

For the organisation’s President, who is himself from Bangladesh, it was an opportunity to show that his country was open for business, able to successfully organise an international conference attended by more than 1200 people from 126 countries.

As this was the first international conference in Bangladesh for decades, there was a massive local press corps following the proceedings in great detail. Several national TV channels even broadcast the press conferences live.

I realised during my stint there that it is not easy to parachute into a complex local media environment, and manage the challenges and opportunities that arise. Looking back on my experience in Bangladesh and in numerous other places, I have come up with some tips on managing local media in an unfamiliar context.

The first thing to keep in mind is that many local media work to the highest professional standards. You may find that doing an interview with them requires much more knowledge than with the international media. However, do be aware of the constraints that some of them work under.