To Moderate or Not (sort of)

Last month, I was asked by Selkirk College to moderate a local TEDx Talk which will feature contributions from some of the most innovative and creative educators in the Kootenays.

Official Poster of the SelkirkCollegeEd TEDx Event, March 1st

And of course, I replied with an enthusiastic “Yes!” well before I really understood what ‘moderating’ a TEDx Talk entailed. Sure, I’ve watched hundreds of those unique talks, but of course, you never actually see the moderator. 

Well, the day of reckoning is only four sleeps away. And now the all-to-familiar panic that results in part to my characteristic knee-jerk reaction to say “Yes!” to anything has become palpable. 

What exactly IS the job of a moderator during these events? Am I expected to be funny? Will I need to dance? Do I need to give a ‘pre-talk’ of sorts?

Who could I turn to? Surely there’s no one here locally with any personal TEDx moderating experience. r friend-in-search, Google.

Quite surprisingly, after an exhaustive search I was unable to come up with anything of value or relevance (let alone being the least bit helpful!) that might give me relief or at least an inkling of what I was about to embark upon.

So, I’m going out on a limb here… 

I’m going to set up simple ‘guidelines’ or minimum expectations to make the afternoon as relevant a learning opportunity for everyone, as possible. I also have a suspicion that my role will also be to help build and maintain the capacity of the afternoon’s event. 

So, here’s my commitment to myself, the speakers, and the audience (in no particular order):

  • have fun;
  • make connections with the audience and the speakers;
  • support the speakers to feel at ease and relaxed as possible (if that’s even possible!);
  • assist the speakers in helping them to make connections with the audience and each other;
  • create the opportunity and space for sharing of self-reflection and encourage all in attendance to, at some level, reflect on their current; educational practices (I’m going to assume that most will be educators); and
  • have fun (not a typo) again.

Our ‘dry-run’ goes tomorrow in preparation for Saturday’s event and while some of the finer details and the expectations of the event organizers will be revealed at that time (hopefully!), it would be a good assumption to make that they will be looking to me to define my role for the afternoon.


I think I’ll start out by sharing with them that I plan on having a hell of a good time.

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