Writing Excuses 10.37: Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin

This month’s wildcard episode comes to you from the 2015 GenCon Indy Writers’ Symposium, where Dan and Howard had the opportunity to interview Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin. Susan is one of the finest moderators the symposium has ever seen, and Marc directs the event, building the schedule around good panelists and great moderators. Their advice is insightful, fresh, and spot-on. If you ever find yourself scheduled to speak on, or moderate, a panel, this episode is a great listen for beginning your preparation.


You’ve been invited to BobCon, and when you arrive at BobCon you realize WHY it’s called BobCon. How do you escape?

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab, narrated by Steven Crossley

8 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 10.37: Being a Good Panelist and a Great Moderator, with Susan J. Morris and Marc Tassin”

  1. I think you could be right about this turning into a classic audio how-to for con panelists. I don’t do a lot of con stuff, but I was listening to this thinking that the next time I do moderate a panel, I’d certainly be tempted to ask the panelists to listen to this ahead of time…

    Also, Howard, you can always tell your panel story in the comments if you want to :)


  2. It’s a story best told in person, to a small group of friends. As an object lesson it’s more effective when told exactly the way I told it here: you get just enough information to ask yourself how YOU would respond in such a situation.

  3. Just want to point out that there’s an exception to the don’t start a panel discussion by reading an excerpt of a Wikipedia article rule: You are allowed to do this, occasionally, provided you are Mary Robinette Kowal!

    1. In fairness, I’d say that the rule here, like any other rule we state, is “if you can make it work YOUR way, do it.”

      My negative experience with this was sitting through 3/4ths of a page of single-spaced 12-point text which the moderator used to define the subject—something that could have been done with 15 seconds of “let’s get started.”

  4. My comment is totally out of context for this episode, but I have a suggestion for the website.

    After ten seasons, you are all very comfortable with the language of writing excuses. However, new listeners (or intermittent listeners like myself) may hear you refer to something and not really be clear on what you mean. The Tag cloud might be great for times when a listener has a spare 20 minutes, but a glossary of Writing Excuses terminology would be more helpful for quick reference.

    That way, when you make a reference in your podcast that may be new or forgotten to some listeners, they can look it up quickly and be on the same page.

    Thanks! Love you all! You are awesome!

  5. Perfect Perfect timing. I am going to be on a panel. my first panel, this weekend! Now I will have some idea of how not behave, and more importantly, how not to.

    Thanks so much for this and ALL of these. You and these 15 minute nuggets of wisdom and direction are better than a fou year English Lit degree!

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