Over the weekend the blogsphere was on fire with the unfortunate story about a disaster of an interview between Sarah Lacy and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Train wreck seems to be how many have described it. We do feel for the interviewer and the public lambasting that she's received. In case you missed it, Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine and Dave McClure of 500hats blog weigh in with good summaries. One of the team at Ignite was the event chair at the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab's (VLAB) February panel on Multi-Platform Social networks that featured a fantastic panel including representatives from RockYou, Social Media, Google's OpenSocial, Bebo & Mogenthaler Venture Partners. The moderator of this panel was Jeremiah Owyang, Managing Director, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, and blogger of Web Strategist, who did an absolutely stellar job. The moderator came well prepared, was extremely knowledgeable about the space and very adeptly engaged the panel and audience of about 350 people with solid questions, interjecting humor from time to time. Jeremiah did a great thing that we haven't seen too many moderators do; he took the extra step of surveying his readers in advance of the event on what they wanted to hear from these panelists. What a great move! In fact, Jeff Jarvis' piece echoes the very recommendation that is part of Jeremiah's standard practice.
For those of you out there planning to moderate a panel or do a one-on-one interview with an industry heavyweight, say Steve Jobs :-), take heart in Jeremiah's best practices on how to be a great moderator. Earlier this year, Jeremiah wrote a comprehensive piece on this which should be a helpful best practices guide for moderating. www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/01/30/how-to-successfully-moderate-a-conference-panel-a-comprehensive-guide/
I 'm sure by closely following his guidelines, one can avert the unfortunate situation that might have been prevented if the focus was more on the attendees and keeping their interests first and foremost at hand.