A Moderator’s Guide


This Moderator's Guide provides a framework for moderating speaker events that seek to promote constructive engagement while welcoming and exploring disagreement. The aim of these events is to demonstrate to the audience that adherence to civil discourse principles allows for productive dialogue between speakers who hold opposing viewpoints.

Part I: What’s at stake?

In the first part of the event, the moderators invite the speakers to clearly articulate the problem that they are addressing, the key evidence as they see it, and the values that are at stake. They then work to clarify whether the speakers care about the same problem, recognize the same evidence, and are concerned with the same values.

To each speaker

(1) What problem are you trying to solve?

(2) Why is this problem important to you? What values do you give priority to in addressing this
problem? What other values are at stake?

(3) What evidence do you think is most important in helping us to understand this problem?


Dialogue between speakers

(1) Are you trying to solve the same problem?

(2) If so, are you appealing to the same values? Are you appealing to the same evidence?

(3) If not, do you recognize each other’s problems, values, and/or evidence as genuine?


Part II: What should we do?

In the second part of the event, the moderators invite the speakers to state their preferred solution to the problem that they have identified. Speakers are encouraged to explore the limits of their own solution and to clarify the points of agreement and disagreement with their opponent’s solution based on the evidence and values that they have invoked.

To each speaker

(1) What do you propose to do, and what outcome(s) do you hope to achieve?

(2) What risks and trade-offs does your proposal involve?


Dialogue between speakers

(1) What weaknesses do you see in your proposal? What strengths do you see in your opponent’s?

(2) What new evidence would make you more confident in your proposal? What new evidence would make you reconsider or abandon it?


Part III: What’s next?

In the third and final part of the event, the moderators invite the speakers to consider what practical solutions are available given the discussion so far. Is there at least partial agreement on a next step? If not, what further evidence could be gathered to make common action possible?

Dialogue between speakers

(1) Given the remaining disagreements, is there a next step that would be acceptable to both of you, and that would be better than doing nothing at all?

(2) If not, what would need to change to make common action possible?