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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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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:

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.